The Gulbenkian Foundation sets out to help combat energy poverty
Portugal is the fourth highest country in the European Union in terms of the percentage of its population reporting an inability to heat their homes in winter and rising to second place for experience uncomfortable homes in summer – that means a total of 1.9 million Portuguese cannot keep their homes warm in the cold months while 3.7 million suffer from heat at home during the warm months.
Thus, Portugal occupies a leading position in the European ranking for energy poverty with many of its inhabitants living in very cold houses in the winter that are then too hot in summer as well as experiencing problems such as infiltrations, humidity and poor domestic air quality. This lack of thermal comfort stems from a combination of factors among which stand out low incomes (in 2020, almost a fifth of Portuguese found themselves at risk of poverty or social exclusion), the high cost of energy (in the first half of 2021, the price of electricity was 12% higher than the European average and with gas 41% more expensive) and the poor energy performance of the housing stock (68% of homes are certified as low energy efficiency).
However, energy poverty does not only impact on wellbeing. This also affects the health of Portuguese citizens – a fifth of the population live in homes with infiltrations, leaks and humidity problems that may cause respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma. We should note that Portugal records excess mortality rates in winter far higher than countries in the north of Europe such as Finland and Sweden.
In order to contribute towards a fairer energy transition, the Point of Transition project seeks to help in combating the energy poverty of Portuguese households with a first pilot phase taking place in Setúbal and under development across various fronts:
In a reused shipping container located next to the 2 de abril marketplace in the parish of São Sebastião, in Setúbal, with a team of technicians available from Monday to Friday (across different timetables*) to provide every type of information regarding the best ways to improve domestic thermal comfort standards, including cutting energy costs (electricity and gas), improving the energy efficiency of homes, advice on the financing available for such purposes as well as assistance in completing applications;
Free energy evaluations of homes and the identification of opportunities for improvement.
Training will be provided in basic energy related concepts, energy accountancy, the levels of energy consumption by household appliances and best practices in the utilisation of energy, to a set of citizens selected from the local community, who will then serve as a team of Transition Agents.
In this pilot phase, taking place between 17 February and 30 June 2022, the Transition Point will be operating in Setúbal and then subject to replication in other locations.
* Point of Transition opening hours
Mon, 10:00 – 14:00
Tue, 15:00 – 19:00
Wed, 10:00 – 14:00 / 15:00 – 19:00
Thu, 10:00 – 14:00
Fri, 15:00 – 19:00
The “Point of Transition” is an initiative of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in partnership with ENA – the Energy and Environment Agency of Arrábida in conjunction with the Environment and Sustainability Research Centre of NOVA University of Lisbon (CENSE, FCT-NOVA) and the RNAE – the Association of Energy and Environment Agencies, with collaboration from Setúbal Municipal Council and the Parish of São Sebastião (Setúbal).