6 December, 2021

Stories from the front lines: “From everyday habits to big changes” 

João Fernandes, from Minho, works for the Portuguese consumer organisation DECO. He received training through STEP, a project that develops measures to reduce energy poverty, to support affected families in Portugal.

“The people who reach out to us aren’t always aware that what they go through in the winter and summer isn’t normal. A freezing or stifling home is neither healthy nor sustainable — but people are unaware they’re in situations of energy poverty, and the impact it has on their lives.

João focuses on the living conditions of families and works to empower them to improve their lives, from simple everyday actions, to building peoples’ capacities and support them in making bigger changes like installing new windows, insulating their home, or using technological tools. “I’m proud of the work we do every day, of the support we can deliver, and for being part of this team.”

João also stresses the need for political change: “Governments must implement policy tools to enable energy poor households to renovate their homes, so that no one is left behind in the green energy transition.” Nearly one-fifth of Portuguese citizens say they cannot keep their home warm in the winter, a crisis which will likely deepen with the increase in energy prices.

The Right to Energy coalition demands massive renovation programmes to provide warm homes for all and slash energy consumption, including specific support for the most vulnerable households.

STEP project