Cold homes, fuel poverty and energy efficiency improvements: A longitudinal focus group approach

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.

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