Is energy the ability to cause change?
Yes because the temperature causes energy to change
Energy is the ability to do work or cause change. However Einstien's famous equation E=mc^2 implies that Mater is essentially a form of Energy, although the methods of converting it to regular Energy are currently quite limited. The Energy contain in an American penny would be worth roughly 7 million dollars if you could convert it.
No, a change in matter can't take place without energy being released or absorbed? Why? Well, this is because every chemical or physical change in matter includes a change in energy. You can't change matter without a change in energy. Energy is the ability to do work or cause change. Hope you find this helpful. And yes, this answer has been approved by my science teacher.