Energy savings to the financially affected groups due to the Pandemic
In a period of pandemic, obviously the health issues, the protection of the population against the exposure to the virus, the protection of human life and deaths minimization remain the first priority of all States. In addition to these, the economic hardship comes to be added as a problem, since a large portion of the population will face the degradation of its financial status, due to the serious consequences of the pandemic, and the income reduction of most households. All forecasts currently are converging for a large period of recession or deep recession in some cases, both in Europe and in the rest of the world.
Cyprus could not remain unaffected by what is happening worldwide, both in the health sector and the economy. The main goal is to collectively reduce the impact, especially on vulnerable groups in terms of health, but also in financially vulnerable groups, which will have to deal with issues such as the increased unemployment, declined incomes, financial difficulties, as well as the phenomenon of Energy Poverty that several households are already facing within the EU.
Energy poverty is defined as the inability of households to buy the energy needed for their daily activities, such as fuel and electricity for transportation, home heating and air conditioning, lighting, use of electrical appliances, etc. Unfortunately, the Energy Poverty is on a rise, mainly in periods of financial crisis, such as the one facing today due to the pandemic. It is therefore, more necessary than ever, the State measures and assistance for energy cost savings, where via energy studies and energy audits, households could reduce their energy consumption and energy costs. Obviously, an energy study or the energy audit in vehicles or buildings, are not enough as standalone solutions. For the whole process to make sense, the energy study and energy audits must be complemented by the implementation of the energy saving solutions proposed by the energy auditor or energy engineer who will undertake the project, whether the study refers to buildings or vehicles. Several solutions, such as replacing lighting with LEDS, replacing old air conditioning systems, installing automations, thermal insulation of the building shell, replacing old windows, installing shading, installing GPS systems on vehicles, optimizing driving behaviour, etc. are in many cases financially viable energy saving solutions. However, the cost of implementation cannot be adopted by many households, especially households with a reduced monthly income.
The Cyprus Government could utilised the funds available in the State Fund of energy saving and renewables, to directly assist those groups. According to the legislation, the purpose of this Fund is to strengthen and support businesses and households to save energy consumption and energy costs, through the implementation of effective energy saving solutions in the field of energy and fuel efficiency. The Energy Saving Fund could support financially the energy efficiency studies and energy audits of buildings and vehicles, required to detect energy improvement measures that could be implemented, but also to improve the energy efficiency of specific buildings and vehicles through the implementation of those solutions. Proper energy management through the installation of energy management systems (BEMS – Building Energy Management System) is a solution that Cyprus Government should also support, since metering and targeting are among the most effective methods of saving energy and fuel economy.
The Cyprus Ministry of Energy has uploaded on its website the official registry of energy auditors and qualified experts, who are certified by the State to undertake energy studies, energy audits and building energy performance certificates. The energy audit and energy efficiency study are the key components of a successful energy improvement project and should be carried out by certified energy engineers for reliable results. The energy audits and energy efficiency studies should be fully subsidized (up to 100%) of the total amount by the State, as required by the relevant legislation 31 (I) / 2009 (including amendments 53 (I) / 2012, 56 (I) / 2014, 149 ( I) / 2015). The Cyprus Government is required by its citizens to financially support the fight against energy poverty, which many households will unfortunately face in the near future due to the financial crisis, unless immediate actions will be taken.