Helping people heat homes for less

15 Nov 2018

Dr Carolyn Snell, leader of the flexible research fund project Policy Pathways to Justice in Energy Efficiency, joined SGN CEO John Morea, MP Barry Sheerman and SGN Director of Stakeholder Relations Helen Bray to speak at a parliamentary event aimed at helping people heat homes for less.

A parliamentary reception was held in the House of Commons earlier this month, hosted by SGN, MP Barry Sheerman and the University of York. The event brought together more than 50 local authority, charity, industry and project partners who work in partnership to deliver warm homes nationwide.  

The event was held to launch SGN’s newly commissioned mapping tool, designed to identify homes within areas that are not connected to the gas network and who may be eligible for additional support. The tool was developed by the Energy Saving Trust and aims to help reach households who are finding it difficult to afford to keep their home warm.

At the event Dr Carolyn Snell, from the University of York, presented research on how low-income families and people with disabilities engage with energy and energy efficiency.

The complex energy needs of disabled people and low-income families

The findings of this research highlighted the complex energy needs of disabled people and low-income families, and the damaging impact of fuel poverty.  During fieldwork interviews, householders living with impairments or long term conditions noted the need for higher temperatures and longer periods of warmth than typical households, while many referenced additional energy consumption relating to the operation of equipment. Meanwhile low-income family households described the additional energy needs associated with having children, such as increased washing, drying and cooking, and strict heating regimes based around the presence of children in the home.  

Barriers to energy efficiency improvements

The project found that improving the energy efficiency of fuel poor homes can cut energy bills and improve health, comfort and well-being. Yet these same households face additional barriers to having their homes improved, from not being identified as needing support, to a lack of understanding about how to upgrade their properties and the ever-changing landscape of grant funding and inaccessible customer journeys. All of these barriers can prevent energy efficiency measures being taken up.  

The project concluded that far greater attention needs to be paid to the way that households engage with energy, and also the way that energy efficiency schemes engage effectively with households. This focus needs to relate not only to understanding the variety of needs and experiences at the level of individual households, but also to how policymakers (from local level to national; across different sectors such as energy, health and housing) recognise and act on fuel poverty.

Project launch event

The Policy Pathways to Justice in Energy Efficiency project will be hosting a parliamentary event on the 11th December in conjunction with ACE (Association for the Conservation of Energy), the Children’s Society and Disability Rights UK, where they will be launching key outputs form the project.

If you would like to attend the event, please email tanya.kenny@theade.co.uk