Book in the Making – Living with Energy Poverty: Perspectives from the Global North and South

EnergyMeasures’ lead partner, University College Cork, is editing a new book to stimulate a conversation that will broaden the understanding of the lived experience of energy poverty at the household level in both developed and developing countries.

Energy poverty is fundamentally about access to the energy required for an adequate standard of warmth, and a sufficient supply of energy services. Access to energy is a multidimensional issue encompassing matters of energy services provision, quality, reliability, and affordability. A key cause of energy poverty is affordability, which is predicated on a combination of high energy prices, low incomes, poorly energy-performing buildings and appliances, and specific household energy needs. While income level is an important factor, not all those who suffer from monetary poverty are energy poor and indeed not all those in energy poverty are necessarily income poor. Households facing affordability issues then have the choice of using the above-average income portion on basic energy needs such as heat, light, cooking, etc., or going without these essential services, resulting in a cold and uncomfortable home and reduced living standards. Insufficient provision of energy services and injustices such as exclusion from energy systems contribute directly to energy poverty.

The efforts to reduce energy poverty have continued globally both in developing and developed countries during the past decades. Consequences of energy poverty include a significant deterioration in people’s physical health and mental well-being, along with premature death due to severe winter and summer conditions, unhealthy and/or restricted lifestyles, and social exclusion. There have been efforts to reduce energy poverty in both developing and developed countries over the past few decades. While a great deal of effort is expended on analysing energy poverty at the macro- and meso- levels, there remains a gap in our collective understanding of how best to identify and engage with energy-poor households at the local level. Identifying those suffering from energy poverty can be a major obstacle to the efficient implementation of energy poverty policies across both developing and developed contexts. However, the variable causes of energy poverty in different situations mean that the adequate identification of energy-poor households remains a critical challenge.

As part of the EnergyMeasures project’s effort to expand our understanding about these issues, the UCC team is editing a new book project titled Living with Energy Poverty: Perspectives from the Global North and South. The book will aim at engendering a conversation that extends understanding of the lived experiences of energy poverty at the household level, across developed and developing contexts. The edited collection will include exploring the range of methods used to identify energy-poor households, measure energy poverty, and characterise those most at risk or vulnerable to energy poverty, including instances of so-called “hidden energy poverty”. Finally, the piece will also discuss the most appropriate practices for supporting energy-poor households across regions, explore the links between energy poverty and sustainability, and outline actions to achieve SDG 7 – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. The book will be published as part of Routledge’s flagship series Explorations in Energy Studies. So please stay tuned in the EnergyMeasures Twitter and Instagram!