The energy café – community action on fuel poverty in the UK

Martiskainen, Mari and Speciale, Giovanna Barbara (2017) The energy café – community action on fuel poverty in the UK. In: Energy for Society, First International Conference on Energy Research and Social Science, 2-5 April, 2017, Melia Sitges, Spain.

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Fuel poverty is a persistent problem in the UK, having wide reaching implications on people’s wellbeing and health, as well as on the questions of equity and justice within the energy system. Despite various government programmes addressing fuel poverty over the years, the problem has not gone away, and in the light of this, new actors have emerged to address the issue. This research presents the action that community groups have taken towards fuel poverty via initiatives such as ‘energy shops’ or ‘energy cafés’. Energy shops are typically staffed by volunteers who provide advice about energy issues to the public, including energy bills and energy efficiency measures. Based on semi-structured interviews with six community groups who have run an energy shop, this research outlines key motivations, opportunities and challenges linked to organising energy shops. These initiatives have been run by about a dozen community groups and located in varying places, including town centre shops, community cafés, city farms and village greens, with a range of publicity and marketing tools used to attract clients. While energy shops mainly cater for the needs of those who are fuel poor, they are open to everyone. Cooperation by community organisations, health service and local authorities could enable community groups to better target energy shops at the fuel poor. An efficient use of funds for fuel poverty alleviation could involve energy shops acting as a triage service that matches the client to the intervention that best meets their needs in the lowest cost way. In other words, energy shops could contribute an inter-agency fuel poverty alleviation strategy.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Keywords: community energy, fuel poverty, energy poverty, energy cafe
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Research Centres and Groups: The Sussex Energy Group
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Depositing User: Mari Martiskainen
Date Deposited: 22 May 2017 15:28
Last Modified: 22 May 2017 15:28

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Research Centre on Innovation and Energy DemandG1020RCUK-RESEARCH COUNCILS UKEP/K011790/1