Often a below-average income goes hand in hand with above-average energy usage. Michael Landau, President of Caritas Austria, counts on help that really lends a hand. "With our partner VERBUND, we make it possible for affected persons to get professional energy consulting, replacement appliances and bridge financing for electricity bills. These are exactly the kinds of assistance that we are asked about again and again."
Help that really helps
The fund helps twofold and sustainably – persons in financial need and the climate. This is achieved with three concrete measures:
1. Energy Consulting
Certified energy consultants in all federal provinces assess the affected households of people who seek help from Caritas to find how energy (not just electricity) can be saved, e.g. through the use of energy-saving household appliances, new window gaskets, etc.
2. Replacing appliances
The fund supports an exchange of power-guzzling appliances for energy-saving ones. Right at the start, the household appliance companies Bosch, Siemens and Neff made economical brand-name appliances available.
3. Bridge financing for electricity bills
If a household is unable to pay its electricity bill and payment by instalments is not feasible, then the Electricity Assistance Fund steps in in time to prevent disconnection – regardless by which electricity provider. This also saves the household reconnection costs. The prerequisite for bridge financing is an energy consultation plus any possible efficiency measures. One year after the energy measures, the energy consultant assesses the effect of the efficiency measures.
Here's how assistance works
Affected persons can contact Caritas in more than 30 social counselling centres in all federal provinces. To start with, the individual situation is analysed and suitable measures are determined on. The fund can be used no matter from which energy company the affected household obtains its electricity. Each year, 400 to 500 households can be supported in this way. In addition, VERBUND finances the energy consulting which would in some instances be subject to a charge, as well as assistance costs such as transportation of replacement appliances. Other companies are invited to contribute to the 3-pillar principle of the Electricity Assistance Fund as well.