Masters of Research dissertation: Investigating the gender issues surrounding fuel poverty

Start Date: October 2018
Completion Date: January 2019
Grant Holder: Helen Melone, supervised by Dr Margaret-Anne Houston, MRes Director, Glasgow Caledonian University
Main Contact: Helen Melone, Glasgow Caledonian University
Email: HMELON200@caledonian.ac.uk

Summary

In third world countries, links between gender and energy and fuel poverty are well documented and researched, but this is not the case for developed countries like Scotland and the UK, where few studies have been carried out.

This qualitative research explores the gender perspectives of fuel poverty, looking in detail at energy use in the home, energy awareness, attitudes to energy conservation and energy behaviours.

Data for case studies was collected by semi-structured interviews and a feminist policy analysis was undertaken of fuel poverty policy in Scotland.

The results show widespread assumptions and perceptions of households and findings suggest that more awareness needs to be taken of individuals in fuel poverty, and that policies may be having unintended consequences on those they seek to protect.

Key findings show details of energy use in the home and differences in attitudes and behaviour of men and women.  Recommendations made include the disaggregating of the Scottish fuel poverty statistics and having women’s groups represented on the fuel poverty advisory groups.

Exploring energy advice and support in remote and rural areas

Start Date: January 2019
Completion Date: June 2019
Grant Holder: University of Salford
Main Contact: Danielle Butler, University of Salford
Email: d.e.butler@edu.salford.ac.uk

Summary

Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) supports households living in fuel poverty in rural and remote communities across the Western Isles, Scotland – an area in which an estimated 59% of households are affected. In 2018/2019, TIG will deliver the Gluasad Comhla (Moving Together) project, which draws on the principles and practices of social prescribing, working with health services and other local partners to deliver a joined up, holistic approach. This will involve home visits with ‘hard to reach’ households, enabling the provision of energy advice and information as well as efficiency measures.

Complementing ongoing doctoral research on the role of energy advice within the wider context of approaches to tackling fuel poverty and supporting those affected, the Eaga CT bursary will enable additional research: facilitating shared learning; developing and disseminating research findings; building professional links and identifying future research opportunities; and, working collaboratively to produce research-related outputs.

This additional work will be supervised by Dr Graeme Sherriff, Associate Director of the Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU, Salford University), who are also undertaking separate but related evaluative research activity as the research partners for the Gluasad Comhla project.

Understanding the current state of play in fuel poverty research and identifying and prioritising opportunities for meaningful, evidence-led engagement

Start Date: January 2019
Completion Date: May 2019
Grant Holder: Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit, (SHUSU), University of Salford
Main Contact: Dr Graeme Sherriff, Research Fellow, Associate Director, SHUSU, University of Salford
Email: G.Sherriff@salford.ac.uk

Summary

Fuel poverty research is rapidly developing in a range of directions that offer conceptual richness alongside empirical rigour. Taking stock and looking forward is an important part of Eaga CT’s legacy. This project utilises a three-stage Delphi methodology to produce a ‘state of the field’ report that identifies and explores current directions of fuel poverty research, ‘evidence gaps’, areas of disagreement and challenges for the future. It commences with a web-based survey of a wide range of invited stakeholders and this is followed by a follow-up survey intended to consolidate and prioritise interim findings. Finally, a set of ten expert interviews will provide an opportunity to contextualise findings from the surveys.

 

PhD Dissertation: Identification of Vulnerable Homes from the Fuel Poverty Concept. Indicator and Assessment Model

Grant Holder: Raúl Castaño De la Rosa, University of Seville, Higher Technical School of Architecture.  Thesis advisor: Professor Madelyn Marrero.
Main Contact : Raúl Castaño De la Rosa
Email: raucasde@alum.us.es

Summary

This research, based on the analysis of different existing indicators of fuel poverty and its relationship to the residential sector, has been developed within the Spanish context taking into consideration the current situation of this issue in Spain. The novelty of this research is that the Index of Vulnerable Homes (IVH) defined goes beyond the use of single self-reported subjective indicators of thermal comfort, and instead uses the comfort adaptive models, which present a broader assessment of thermal comfort. Overall, the application of the IVH to the British context will bring a new perspective in the assessment and identification of vulnerable homes, and provide a starting point for new lines of research aimed at achieving optimal and efficient performances for households in great need.

Impact of fuel poverty measures: new research on the modelling of energy efficiency improvements on health

Improving household energy efficiency levels (through draft proofing, insulation, double glazing and improved heating) can reduce the impact of cold homes on health. This is important because we know that living in poorly heated and insulated homes increases the risk of a range of conditions including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Few studies have assessed the potential long-term impact of historic efficiency improvements on hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory symptoms. Research by the University of Exeter Medical School (in collaboration with their partners), funded by Eaga Charitable Trust, used household energy efficiency and hospital admissions data across the UK to explore this further.

Their report provides a description of some very interesting, thought-provoking and, and in some respects, unexpected findings. Importantly, the authors highlight a number of limitations associated with this study and the complexity in modelling how improvements such as insulation, glazing and heating influences residents’ health.

An Assessment Tool for Low Income/High Costs (LIHC) Fuel Poverty – Final Stage 3

A new definition of fuel poverty, the low income/high costs (LIHC) fuel poverty indicator, was introduced for England by the Government following the 2012 Hills Review. Unlike the previous definition, the new indicator is a relative measure, with annually changing thresholds which make it difficult to identify and monitor the problem consistently at the local level.

Eaga Charitable Trust has recently published a report by Richard Moore and the Energy Audit Company which is the third stage of a project, jointly funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Citizens Advice, National Energy Action and Eaga Charitable Trust, to develop a practical and flexible assessment tool to target low income/high costs (LIHC) fuel poverty.  The report updates the 2015 Stage 2 report and is in two parts.  The first part details the further development and extension of the UNO based software version of the tool and the production of a new web based version (freely available on the NEA website – link below).  The second part describes the practical problems with the official LIHC indicator and shows how the assessment tool can be used to more accurately and comprehensively target those households most in need.

Links to: Stage 3 full report, research summaryguidance documents & fuel poverty assessment tool.

Stage 2 reports can be accessed here.

Homes fit for study: student experiences of energy in the private rented sector

Students’ experiences of the private rented sector are commonly associated with poorly heated, low quality, dense, urban accommodation.  This is accompanied by a widespread cultural expectation that it is acceptable for students to live in housing with these characteristics.  At the same time, there has been little research conducted with the student population within the field of fuel poverty research. This recently published research explored the experiences of students living in the private rented sector in terms of their use and management of energy and the extent to which these lead to living in cold homes.  Of those students surveyed:

  • 49% reported feeling uncomfortably cold in their rented home;
  • 42% struggled to pay their energy bills;
  • 38% had damp or mould in their property.

The research revealed a range of factors that contributed to these experiences, along with an array of impacts and coping strategies.

You can access the full research report and research summary here and read an NUS blog on the research here.

Grant Award to The University of Sheffield

The Trustees of Eaga Charitable Trust are very pleased to announce a new grant award which they have made to the University of Sheffield for a research project entitled ‘Being Warm – Being Happy: Understanding Disability Fuel Poverty and Energy Vulnerability for Adults with a Learning Disability (AWLD)’. This mixed methods study aims to understand and characterise fuel poverty and energy vulnerability from the perspective of adults with learning disabilities. 

Professor Angela Tod, Professor of Older People and Care, School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sheffield, said: 

“The Being Warm Being Happy project team are delighted to have been awarded this grant from Eaga Charitable Trust.  The voice and experience of  adults with a learning disability are under-represented in fuel poverty research and this funding provides a valuable opportunity to start to address that evidence gap.  We look forward to conducting the study and sharing our findings.”

Further information on the project can be found here.

Low Carbon Heat and Rural Fuel Poverty – Lessons from across Europe

This recently published study examines the role of low carbon heat and the potential for it to address fuel poverty, particularly in rural locations. Best practice examples have been sourced from EU member states, which are leading in both the deployment of low carbon heat and with low reported fuel poverty levels. A review of barriers to the UK has been compiled and learning experiences drawn, to inform next steps in the low carbon heat agenda.

You can access the full research report and research summary here.

Being Warm – Being Happy: Understanding Disability Fuel Poverty and Energy Vulnerability for Adults with a Learning Disability (AWLD)

Start Date: October 2017
Completion Date: March 2019
Grant Holder: University of Sheffield
Main Contact: Professor Angela Tod, Professor of Older People & Care, School of Nursing & Midwifery
Email: a.tod@sheffield.ac.uk

Summary

There is very little evidence of the nature and extent of fuel poverty in adults with a learning disability (AWLD). This mixed-method study seeks to address that gap.

Aim

To understand and characterize fuel poverty and energy vulnerability from the perspective of AWLD.

Objectives

  1. To conduct interviews to understand the experience and risks of fuel poverty from the perspective of AWLD.
  2. To compare the rates of FP in households in which AWLD reside relative to households in which adults with other forms of disability reside and the general adult population.
  3. To identify the implications for policy and practice through consultation and co-production.

Full report

Research summary