As more women take up roles in the energy industry – once a predominately male sector [1,2] – we spoke to the three women in Greener Kirkcaldy’s Energy Advice Team: Kitty, a senior energy advisor, who; Rosie, an energy advisor, and the newest of the team, joining in 2020; and Pat, the team’s admin assistant (additional support is also provided to the team by Lisa, also an admin assistant).
What motivated you to work for an Energy Advice Service?
Rosie: I applied for an energy advice role because I wanted a change in career. What was attractive about this role was the advice and support element of helping people save money and become more energy efficient in their homes and also reducing their carbon footprint.
Kitty: The scale and range of work that energy advice service covers, from working with individuals to make meaningful, lasting-reductions in carbon emissions, to being involved in community-scale energy projects and shaping policies.
Pat: It gives me the opportunity to help people
What do you like best about the work?
Rosie: The best part about my role is I get to speak to lots of different people from varied demographic backgrounds. The most rewarding part of my job is when I am helping people who are experiencing fuel poverty or at a point of crisis in their life and need extra support to resolve a situation.
Kitty: How we manufacture and use energy will be crucial in tackling the climate emergency: my role gives me the opportunity to work across different projects to find meaningful, community-specific solutions to these dilemmas.
Pat: Making a difference – and signposting people for additional support outside of the remit of our work.
What is the hardest part of your role?
Rosie: The hardest part about my role is watching the increase of people who are now classed as in extreme fuel poverty due to losing their jobs or experiencing a reduction in income due to Covid 19, it can sometimes be very emotive listening to their stories.
Kitty: Getting people to view improving energy efficiency in the same way that they would other home improvements, such as replacing a kitchen or bathroom. We might all understand the benefits of installing energy efficiency measure – warm, dry, comfortable, healthy homes, with lower running and repair costs – but because the end product is either invisible or not as aesthetically appealing, these investments don’t appeal to our hearts as well as they do our heads. I think the pandemic is changing our thinking on this.
Pat: Listening to the circumstances people are living in and dealing with their expectations.
Do you think this is a field that women are under-represented in professionally?
Rosie: I do think this sector is under represented by women, I believe that there is a stereotypical view that energy advisors should be male and predominantly it has and still is a male-driven industry. Women have a lot to offer in this industry and could potentially lead the way for extraordinary change, more women should be encouraged to apply for roles within the energy sector at all levels.
Kitty: Women are still under-represented in the energy industry, although they are better represented in public-facing services, such as community energy and energy advice. The role of an energy advisor requires combining technical knowledge with the skills typically found in the caring professionals – a complicated mix! – but I still think that there is a public perception of competency based on gender, and have experienced this first-hand.
What (one) thing are you surprised people don’t know about energy?
Rosie: The one thing that surprises me that people don’t know is that gas is a fossil fuel and we will exhaust fossil fuels in our lifetime.
Kitty: How often we take the energy in our homes and buildings for granted and remain obvious of the processes upstream of the meter. I’m also surprised by how often people ignore or invert the energy hierarchy when deciding what energy reduction changes to make.
Pat: Altering their energy habits and behaviour has a direct impact on saving them money.
What one tip on reducing or managing energy usage have you learnt in the role that you would like to pass on?
Rosie: So many tips- Don’t leave appliances on standby, Put your heating on as and when you need it. Use LEDs, insulate your homes- the list is endless….!
Kitty: Reducing emissions is everyone’s responsibility – and to everyone’s benefit: there is usually something we can do to be smarter with our energy use.
Pat: Switching suppliers and shopping around can make a huge difference.
You can read our blog on International Women’s Day here.