EC-LINC (Energy Check for Low Income Households) was a European-wide project that developed and trialled an energy advice service for low income households, which in some cases also involved training long-term unemployed people as energy advisors. The project involved partner organisations in five European countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and the UK) and was part-funded through Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE), a European Commission scheme.
This is the UK section of the main EC-LINC website and has been created by Changeworks, the UK EC-LINC partner. It contains key resources from the project, allowing other organisations to replicate the advice service. The website also provides useful reports from the project and links to other useful websites.
About the advice service
The advice service developed through EC-LINC was aimed to:
- Specifically help low income households save money on their energy and water bills
- Be a tailored service for individual households
- Provide advice on simple behavioural changes residents can make
- Provide and fit low cost energy and water saving measures for free, into participating households (such as low energy light bulbs and water-saving shower heads)
- In some cases, train long-term unemployed people to carry out the home energy visits.
The need for this project
Increasing energy prices are a huge concern for many households across Europe. Households living on low income are particularly vulnerable and many struggle to adequately heat their homes and pay their energy bills. In many countries, the number of households living in fuel poverty continues to rise. EC-LINC will enable low income households to reduce their energy and water bills through the provision of energy advice and free energy/water saving devices.
Reducing the energy consumption from households also contributes to wider issues, such as tackling climate change and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
The project aimed to make a positive contribution to reducing unemployment through training long-term unemployed people as energy advisors. This is important since unemployment rates are high and/or increasing in many European countries. The valuable experience and skills gained within the project can help long-term unemployed seek and secure further employment.
Changeworks’ role in the project
Fuel poverty has been recognised as a problem in the UK for many years and therefore there are many initiatives and programmes tackling the issue there. However, for many European countries, fuel poverty is only just starting to get the attention it deserves.
Changeworks, the UK partner for EC-LINC, is an environmental charity and social enterprise that delivers projects to enable people to live and work more sustainably. As Changeworks already runs effective fuel poverty projects, there was little need for Changeworks to trial the EC-LINC service into homes in the area. Instead, Changeworks used its expertise from previous and current fuel poverty projects to help the other EC-LINC partners, including providing expert input and creating resources for the project.
Lessons from the EC-LINC pilot projects have been communicated to policy makers in different parts of the UK to influence the design of future programmes.