Accepted paper:

Energy and its use in low income households


Andy Stephenson (De-Montfort)
Jamie-Leigh Ruse

Paper short abstract:

Low income households require energy for the basic living. Real decisions on what they can and can’t afford are the main factor in decision making. Working with communities and understanding lifestyles is paramount to help make energy use more cost-effective rather than relying on technology.

Paper long abstract:

Energy is a necessity for everyday living. However, low income households face decisions including choosing between washing clothes or cooking meals. Traditionally, helping these households to meet energy needs has been done through fabric improvements to a building. Whilst advice provision is designed to help the household manage their energy effectively, in practice the way people live in their homes or use their energy systems is ignored. While many improvements to the national housing stock have taken place, there remains significant numbers of people who can't afford to pay for energy when it is most needed and have to ration it accordingly. While Fuel Poverty is a complex mix caused mainly by poor quality housing, low household income and high fuel bills; technology has been shown to only solve part of the problem. Despite this, there is still a drive to develop further technologies and install them to create "low energy homes" at a national level. Truly understanding the social causes, pressures and lifestyles which can contribute to fuel poverty can not only help devise ways of tackling the problem but can also provide households with real information and support which is community based. This can in turn create a more effective management of energy and a reduction of energy consumption. This paper will show the importance of interaction between households, a community, and those agencies looking to deliver measures to reduce fuel poverty. It will argue that personal and locally embedded advice provision should be a standard part of any energy strategy before technological improvements.

panel P06
Energy citizenships and prospects for low carbon democracy