Masters of Research dissertation: Gender-based perspectives of fuel poverty in Scotland

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


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


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


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


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.

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.

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


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.


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


  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

‘The Health of the Nation’: analysis of cost effectiveness and success factors in health-related fuel poverty schemes

Start Date: September 2016
Completion Date: March 2017
Grant Holders: SE2 & Lewisham Council
Main Contact: Liz Warren, Director SE2

‘The Health of the Nation’ will research the cost effectiveness and success factors of health-related fuel poverty schemes across the UK. SE2 Ltd and Lewisham Council are working together to build a new evidence base about the costs and outcomes of fuel poverty schemes, to help provide benchmarks to scheme managers and insight to policymakers. How do schemes measure success? What does value-for-money look like? How do scheme objectives and design affect results? How much does it cost to generate a referral? We will be asking local authorities, scheme providers and referral partners for insight and data to underpin this important and innovative study.

Final report

Research summary

Policymakers’ guidance

Guidance for fuel poverty scheme managers

Homes Fit for Study: student experiences of energy in the private rented sector

Start Date: November 2016
Completion Date: January 2018
Grant Holders: National Union of Students Charitable Services
Main Contact: Rachel Drayson, Insight Manager – Sustainability

‘Homes fit for study’ is an in-depth research into students’ experiences of fuel poverty. Through three phases of research (including scoping literature review, online survey and focus groups), the research will uncover:

– how fuel poverty and cold homes are experienced by different segments of the student population;
– the impacts of fuel poverty on health and wellbeing for students;
– behavioural indicators of fuel poverty; and
– insight into positive and negative influences of ‘smart’ technologies designed to facilitate energy conservation.

Recommendations for key stakeholders working in the field of fuel poverty and in student accommodation will be developed from the research, as well as resources to support students experiencing fuel poverty.

Full research report

Appendix 1 – online survey

Appendix 2 – focus group discussion guide

Appendix 3 – literature review

Summary research report


Modelling the impact of fuel poverty and energy efficiency on health

Start Date: November 2016
Completion Date: May 2018
Grant Holders: University of Exeter Medical School
Main Contacts: Dr Ben Wheeler, Senior Research Fellow & Dr Richard Sharpe, Advanced Public Health Practitioner


In this collaborative study, we investigated the links between changes in the built environment, fuel poverty and health. We linked housing energy efficiency data from the energy Saving Trust’s Home Energy Efficiency Database and Devon Home Analytics Portal database with health data (Hospital Episode Statistics). In analyses, we assessed associations between increased energy efficiency and hospital admission rates (COPD, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases). The findings were mixed, but there was a suggestion of a positive association with higher admission rates in areas where average home energy efficiency was greater. These findings are put into context with a range of study limitations.

Full report

Research summary 

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

Start Date: August 2016
Completion Date: November 2017
Grant Holders: Community Energy Plus
Main Contact: Dr Tim Jones, Chief Executive, Jenny Hannam, Project Officer: Renewables and Communities


This 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.

Final report

Research summary

A number have additional resources have been produced, including a policy brief, best practice guide, low carbon heat poster and webinar. These resources can be downloaded here.