Why hold an Energy Switch Day?
Tash Jesson, Theology Director of the Fair Energy Campaign, talks about “Energy Switch Days”: a simple but radical act for local churches towards climate and social justice.
Tash and her colleague Froi Legaspi talk more about this on the latest episode of the Just Church podcast, which you can find here.
why should I care about my church and my neighbours’ energy supplier?
The Fair Energy Campaign is a Citizens UK campaign which aims to fight both climate change and fuel poverty by bringing justice to the current energy market.
We’re looking to do this by creating a shift in the energy market which makes the unfair and unjust practises of the Big 6 energy providers incompatible with consumer demand.
One way in which we do this is through Switch Days, which are community events empowering people to switch onto cheaper, fairer, and greener energy deals.
The reason justice needs to be brought into the energy market is twofold:
(1) the pricing strategies of the Big 6 energy providers are largely unethical (British Gas, nPower, Eon, SSE, EDF, Scottish Power). Customers are lured into fixed-term contracts with unrealistically low prices, and once they are in their contract their tariff is hiked up to the legal maximum rate. On top of that, these contracts are characteristically difficult to leave thanks to exit fees and complicated and lengthy exit processes. We call this method tease-and-squeeze pricing, and it’s unethical.
(2) the Big 6 providers rely predominantly on fossil fuels to create their energy. Where they do offer renewable energy mixes the profits are fed back into the mining of yet more fossil fuels. Whom you source your gas and electricity from is the single biggest contributor to your personal carbon footprint, 25% in total. By switching to a renewable provider you can cut your carbon footprint by a quarter in just a few minutes.
We are already seeing the devastating effects of climate change.
Climate change isn’t just bad for the planet, it’s catastrophic for people as well. It will be the most vulnerable in our society that feel the effects first, but we will all feel the effects.
By trapping people into these unethical un-climate friendly contracts, the Big 6 are prohibiting people from being able to help themselves or help the planet.
how can holding a ‘Switch Day’ help with making the energy market fairer?
The way the Switch Day helps is that it utilises the power of community to give people the encouragement and support to switch their energy provider onto a cheap, fair, and green, provider.
People don’t switch energy provider regularly, and by not doing so they miss the chance to save money and save some CO2. The actual switching process takes just a few minutes but switching energy provider is often at the bottom of everyone’s to-do list.
So, by having a dedicated community event centred around switching energy provider, we can make a huge positive impact on the finances of members as well as the climate.
One fantastic example is the community of St. John’s Hoxton who have, through 2 Switch Days, saved £10,000 in yearly savings for the church and community and they’ve saved approximately 80 tonnes of CO2 a year being emitted into the atmosphere.
They also participated in our ‘Switch Hub’ model, whereby the church was switched on a renewable supplier first and then the community could use a referral code system to raise yet more energy credit – a further £2000 was raise in energy credit for the church and its members.
After a successful pilot, other churches are getting on board. We’re in the middle of seeing several churches in the Stepney Episcopal Area run their own Switch Days, and the impact is huge.
Despite the current restrictions in the pandemic, it’s even more important that we get creative and think of ways we can run Switch Days and support communities to switch onto cheaper, fairer, and greener energy deals.
Lockdowns have hiked people’s energy bills up higher at a time when many people are experiencing reduced income through furlough or redundancy. It’s even harder to make ends meet than it was last winter; and as people turn down their thermostats to try and save money, they increase their risk of long-term health complications and damage from colds, the flu, and other respiratory viruses.
Helping people save money on their energy bills really, really matters.
Great, I’m in. What do I do next?
The Fair Energy Campaign team has created a Switch Day Pack, which is a digital pack that contains all the resources and information that a church would need to run their own Switch Day.
Endorsed by the Right Revd Joanne Grenfell, Bishop of Stepney, we’ve partnered with Compassionate Communities and Tearfund to get the Switch Day pack and training to as many churches as possible.
We’re holding a simple 1 hour training to learn more, on zoom and it’s FREE. Once you’ve come to that we can send you the pack and you can get going!
Our first training day is on Wed 27th January, from 1.30pm-2.30pm and it’s open to anyone interested in finding out more.