[Event presentations & recordings] Split incentives, how to reach tenants, energy advice: ENPOR shares its knowledge!

Reducing energy poverty in the Private Rented Sector: How to reach tenants

Energy poverty is a socio-economic phenomenon caused by a triad of low income, high energy expenses, and poor energy efficiency in buildings, and has been accelerated by recent events in Europe’s climate, health, and political spheres. In 2020, it was estimated that around 36 million people in the EU were unable to keep their homes adequately warm, with the private rented sector (PRS) being most affected due to its position as the least energy-efficient among all housing sectors, while also having the most elevated levels of energy poverty. With the alleviation of energy poverty gaining increasing attention and importance within EU-wide and Member States’ climate ambitions, as can be seen in the European Green Deal, the Fit-for-55 Package, and the 2023 updates of the National Energy and Climate Plans, the PRS should not be discounted as an avenue of achieving a just transition towards climate neutrality, as the sector is growing in market size, meaning that it’s impact on EU energy and climate will grow proportionally.

This thematic seminar, focusing on how to reach energy-poor households – and more specifically tenants – in order to pass on knowledge of technical and behavioral energy saving measures, programs, and funds, demonstrated a number of successful and replicable methods to connect with tenants of the PRS, with the aim of:

i) increasing their knowledge on energy efficiency measures and

ii) decreasing their levels of energy poverty, thereby contributing to a just energy transition.

Examples of best practice approaches were presented by Anamari Majdandžić (DOOR) about how to conduct research in the field and connect with the Private Rented Sector (PRS) using the experience of ENPOR, POWERPOOR, EPAH and EmpowerMed. Christos Tourkolias (CRES) and Vicky Tzega (EKPIZO) presented the Greek experience related to reaching the target group of tenants/landlords, while Martijn Rietbergen (HU) presented how to reach tenants in the Netherlands and relayed the experiences of the Energy Box. Finally, Paula Damaška (ZEZ), representing the CREES project, discussed crowdfunding for Energy boxes and shared their experience of reaching energy poor households. (hyperlinks guide you to speakers’ presentations)

A briefing was prepared gathering highlights from the event.

Examples from quantifying the split-incentive problem in the private rented sector in the national level 

In most EU countries, we do not have any studies or estimations on the extent of the split incentive problem, which leads to design of policies for renovation with a subsidy rate that is not often adequate or optimised as it cannot capture the impact of the split incentive. The purpose of this seminar is to show various methods of how we can we quantify the split incentive problem in a country, through surveys and methodologies that are unbiased and can generate useful findings for further policy design. It is especially useful for energy agencies as they can get inspiration or ready- templates with the questions that need to be asked and means of sampling tenants and owners, as well as ways to extract results from these surveys. The better understanding of the split incentive problem can assist policymakers in quantifying the financing requirements for promoting energy efficiency investments in the built environment among the landlords and tenants. Through such knowledge, policymakers can design their policies for energy efficiency upgrades and target more efficiently the private rented sector.

The split-incentive in building retrofit measures is “linked with cost recovery issues related to energy efficiency upgrade investments due to the failure of distributing effectively financial obligations and rewards of these investments between concerned actors” (JRC 2017) and is a key problem in tackling energy poverty in the private rented sector.  

Christos Tourkolias (CRES) presented and analysed results of a study conducted in Greece to assess the phenomenon of split incentives. Emphasis was given on the survey conducted with the participation of both landlords and tenants highlighting their contradicting perceptions. Anamari Majdandžić (DOOR) analysed results from four municipalities in Croatia on energy poverty, focusing on the situation in the private rented sector and on the split incentive. Hongguang Nie (Changchun University of Science and Technology) presents on the influence of split incentive effects between homeowners and renters, which stem from differences between those who pay and those who enjoy the benefits of the adoption of energy-efficient (EE) technology and energy-saving behaviors. Dr. Lucie Maruejols (Post-Doctoral Researcher, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural  Development, University of Göttingen, Germany) presents results from a study which examined the energy-related behaviour of owners and occupants of multi-family dwellings in Canada, some of whom do not pay directly for electricity or heat, but instead have these costs included in their rent or condo fees. Using data from a  Survey of Household Energy Use, they looked at the extent to which split incentives that result from bill-paying arrangements affect a variety of activities including the setting of temperatures at various times of the day and the use of eco-friendly options in basic household tasks. The empirical results suggest the possibility of environmental benefits from policies targeted at reducing the impacts of the behaviour of those who do not pay directly for energy use.

A briefing was prepared gathering insights from all presentations and recommendations.

Insights and Innovations in Energy Advice 

The aim of the event, targeting policy makers, energy advisors, consultants on sectors was to present various measures from the project that have contributed to energy advice for energy poor households in the PRS.

Contributions from Austria and The Netherlands are planned. The presentations on the national ENPOR measures will briefly present the motivation behind each measure, the implementation process and the results achieved.

  1. Visual language for energy poor households (AEA) 
  2. Social Energy Advice – a new concept to complement traditional energy advice (AEA) 
  3. Presentation of the Dutch Energybox (HU)