Our mission is to empower low income households with respect to the energy they need and use through education, practical skills transfer, open-source technology and advocacy.
We seek to increase people's understanding of energy in order that they can reduce their demand, and understand the need to do so, and so reduce their vulnerability to future price rises and energy poverty.
Through the transfer of practical skills, and the development of open source technology we also seek to give people real control over the energy they need in a way currently absent from most households.
Finally, we want to increase our influence and profile within national policy, politics and debate to try to ensure minimum harm is done in future energy policy making, and to engage with a national movement for energy justice.
The project is firmly located within the contexts of rising fuel poverty, increasing energy inequality, the increasing cost of conventional fossil fuels and climate change.
An estimated 6.5m households in the UK were left in fuel poverty over Christmas 2012 as a result of further price rises. For every 1% increase in fuel prices, another 40,000 households can be expected to enter fuel poverty. 20,000 pensioners died last year as a result of cold related illnesses.
Furthermore the policies in place, and being formulated, to reform and develop the UK's energy infrastructure and market are not adequate to protect and assist those most vulnerable to fuel poverty. The underlying thrust of recent policy has been to influence patterns in market outcomes through offering a series of incentives to financial actors, whether individuals or organisations. We believe this approach is flawed and inappropriate for the following reasons:
We need energy that is empowering, fair and green; not enriching for a few at the expense of the most vulnerable.
Theory of Change
Demand Energy Equality believes that in order to achieve a fair energy system people need to be better educated about energy: what it is, where it comes from, how it relates to their needs and desires, who controls it, where the money is made, what ecological constraints we face, where energy might come from in the future. And what they can do about it.
We do not believe that those on the lowest incomes will be adequately assisted or protected by future energy policy in the UK. At worst, we believe they will continue to be exploited and dis-empowered.
Our theory of change is one of empowerment:
- First, we aim to inform and educate people about energy, giving them the confidence and expertise to understand it as more than an abstract concept. Through this knowledge we begin to enable people to take action to reduce the negative impact accessing energy has on their autonomy and vulnerability, primarily through reducing their demand where possible.
- Second, we aim to inspire people to take an interest in the contexts in which they access their energy, and in which energy inequality exists. These contexts include energy inequality & poverty, climate change and peak fossil fuels: each will inform the primary necessity of energy demand reduction to deal with the oncoming energy crisis.
- Third, we aim to engage people in grass-roots solutions and actions aimed at bringing control of energy generation, distribution and use closer to the households and communities that use that energy. This will range from DIY & open-source hardware, domestic energy saving measures or local or national campaigns informed by a greater understanding of energy politics.
- Fourth, we aim to facilitate and support a skill & knowledge share model to enable individuals and groups to establish the confidence to own and pass on learned knowledge and skills, and to be better placed to organise and empower themselves.
- Fifth, we aim to constantly develop and support this movement through continued open-source resource development, open-source source hardware and technology innovation, research into energy policy and infrastructure change and appropriate solutions-based critiques of current trends that disrupt dominant discourses.
Through each of these five steps we hope to build a capable, inspired, self-sufficient movement of engaged individuals and households ready to meet the oncoming energy crisis as best as possible: more informed, better skilled and therefore more empowered than before.