Juliette Burroughs, NEA | January 2018
This research investigated the relationship between fuel poverty and carbon monoxide (CO) risk in households on low incomes and in vulnerable situations. Over the course of two heating seasons (October to April) in 2015/16 and 2016/17 NEA collected data from 349 households, targeting those on low incomes and with a range of vulnerabilities. The main conclusion to draw from this research is that the factors which cause or expose households to the risk of fuel poverty – low income, poor quality housing and the age and health of occupants – can impact on the heating and servicing behaviours of households to elevate CO risk in homes
September 2017 | Bryony Holroyd, Michael Hamer (NEA)
The project is to evaluate the effectiveness of the complimentary Chop-cloc product fitted to gas fired central heating systems, in terms of assessing the size of any energy and cost savings made – particularly whether these meet the manufacturer’s claims – and any other customer experience issues or benefits associated with this product.
September 2017 | Bryony Holroyd, Michael Hamer (NEA)
The project is to evaluate the effectiveness of the complimentary “tadpole” product fitted to gas fired central heating systems, in terms of assessing the size of any energy and cost savings made – particularly whether these meet the manufacturer’s claims – and any other customer experience issues or benefits associated with this product.
September 2017 | Newcastle University and NEA
Overview of the interdisciplinary multi-storey research communities project
This report presents the results of a second phase of evaluation of the npower Fuel Bank™ scheme. While the pilot evaluation (phase one) examined the experience and impact of the scheme from the perspective of service users and service providers (food bank staff and volunteers), this report focuses solely on service users. Fieldwork took place between December 2016 and February 2017 and involved 172 service users.
The npower Fuel Bank™, launched as a pilot scheme in four areas 2015, was expanded into 10 new locations in spring 2016. Fuel banks are now available across Great Britain in 14 areas (12 in England and one in both Wales and Scotland).
April 2017 | Wouter Pourtinga, Shiyu Jang, Charlotte Grey & Chris Tweed, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University
Improving the energy efficiency of the housing stock may bring multiple positive health gains through improved indoor temperatures and reduced fuel consumption. This study used a multilevel interrupted time-series approach to evaluate a policy-led energy-performance investment programme. Long-term monitoring data were collected for intervention and control households at baseline (n = 99) and follow-up (n = 88), creating a dataset with 15,771 data points for a series of daily-averaged hydro-thermal outcome variables. The study found that the intervention raised indoor air temperature by on average 0.84 K as compared with control households, thereby bringing the majority of indoor temperature measurements within the ‘healthy’ comfort zone of 18–24°C, while average daily gas usage dropped by 37%. The study concludes that the multilevel interrupted time-series approach offers a useful model for evaluating housing improvement programmes.
April 2017 | Charlotte N. B. Grey, Tina Schmieder-Gaite, Shiyu Jiang, Wouter Poortinga from Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University and Christina Nascimento, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University
Cold homes have been identified as factors in health and social inequalities. Research on fuel poverty and the health impacts of affordable warmth initiatives have to date primarily been conducted using quantitative and statistical methods. This study took a longitudinal focus group approach that allowed exploration of lived experiences of fuel poverty before and after an energy efficiency intervention. Focus group discussions were held with residents from three low-income communities before (n = 28) and after (n = 22) they received energy efficiency measures. The results show that improving the energy efficiency of homes at risk of fuel poverty has a profound impact on wellbeing and quality of life among other areas. There is a need for better community engagement and communication to improve the benefits delivered by fuel poverty programmes, as well as further qualitative exploration to better understand the wider impacts of fuel poverty and policy-led intervention schemes.
March 2017 | The Connecting Homes for Health: Phase 1 Review has been prepared by NEA for Northern Gas Networks (NGN) with the intention of identifying a possible pathway for piloting revised and more inclusive criteria for connecting vulnerable households to the gas network. Such a pilot would go beyond currently eligibility criteria for the fuel poor network extension scheme (FPNES), and represents a voluntary and proactive move on the part of NGN.
The review finds that off-gas households are some of the most energy inefficient properties in the country, contributing significantly to domestic sector carbon emissions. They are also some of the most expensive to heat, meaning that a significant proportion of off-gas households are in fuel poverty. They are therefore more likely to experience colder indoor temperatures which, as the review shows, are a risk factor for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, mental ill health, and a range of other associated health conditions. A potential widening of FPNES criteria might therefore achieve additional health and environmental outcomes for households who are vulnerable and either in or on the edge of fuel poverty, but who fall outside the scope of current eligibility requirements.
February 2017 | A report by NEA for the gas distribution network companies
Across Great Britain, households located in properties off the gas network are being left behind in the fight against fuel poverty. In particular, the UK Government’s main scheme to provide heating and insulation measures to low income households – Energy Company Obligation (ECO) – is failing off-gas homes. National Energy Action (NEA) was commissioned by the four gas distribution network (GDN) companies to examine opportunities to address the non-gas gap under ECO and redirect support to vulnerable households who need it most.
The short-term health and psychosocial impacts of domestic energy efficiency investments in low-income areas: a controlled before and after study
January 2017 | Charlotte N. B. Grey, Shiyu Jiang, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. Christina Nascimento, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University. Sarah E. Rodgers, Rhodri Johnson, Ronan A. Lyons, Farr Institute, Swansea University Medical School, Swansea University. Wouter Poortinga, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University & School of Psychology, Cardiff University
Research suggests that living in fuel poverty and cold homes contributes to poor physical and mental health, and that interventions targeted at those living in poor quality housing may lead to health improvements. However, little is known about the socio-economic intermediaries and processes that contribute to better health. This study examined the relationship between energy efficiency investments to homes in low-income areas and mental and physical health of residents, as well as a number of psychosocial outcomes likely to be part of the complex relationship between energy efficiency measures and health outcomes. A quasi-experimental field study with a controlled pretest-posttest design was conducted (intervention n= 364; control n= 418) to investigate the short-term health and psychosocial impacts of a domestic energy efficiency programme that took place across Wales between 2013 and 2015.