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


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


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
Email: a.tod@sheffield.ac.uk


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

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
Email: rachel.drayson@nus.org.uk

‘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


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
Email: Jennifer@cep.org.uk


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.

Masters of Research Dissertation: Do Community Energy Services Companies (CESCOs) reduce fuel poverty?

Grant Holder: Jane Kelly. Supervised by Dr Paula Roberts, Lecturer in Environmental Management, Bangor University
Main Contact : Dr Paula Roberts
Email: p.roberts@bangor.ac.uk


Energy Local and Ynni Ogwen have recently started the first UK pilot of a Community Energy Services Company (CESCO) aimed directly at using local renewable energy to supply local households in fuel poverty in Bethesda, Gwynedd. The project aims to benefit both the generator of renewable energy and the user of energy by closing the gap between the price received per unit generated and that paid by householders. This research aims to understand the motives for joining and their responses to cheaper energy supply and suggest ways of improving the educational components of the project.


Masters of Research dissertation: The challenges of local authorities’ multi-agency approach to identifying the fuel poor living in private rented accommodation – a case study of Portsmouth City Council

Grant Holder: Masters student: Katherine Shadwell. Supervised by Professor Matt Leach, Professor of Energy and Environmental Systems, University of Sussex
Main Contact : Dr Jonathan Chenoweth, M.Sc. Programme Director, Centre for Environmental Strategy
Email: j.chenoweth@surrey.ac.uk


To combat the rise in fuel poverty, especially within the private rental sector, many local authorities have recently been implementing a multi-agency approach to identifying the fuel poor in local authority housing, private rental and owned accommodation.  However, the complexity and challenges of this approach are yet to be evaluated in detail. This research will analyse the implementation of Portsmouth City Council’s multi-agency approach and examine if intervention from front-line local government staff can really make a difference in identifying the fuel poor and if any improvements to this multi-agency approach can be identified.

Research summary





The Speird Project

Start Date October 2015
Completion Date November 2016
Grant Holders: Glasgow Caledonian University
Main Contact Dr Keith Baker, School of Engineering and the Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University
Email: keith.baker@gcu.ac.uk


The Scottish Government’s statistics now show that rural households spend more on energy to heat their homes than urban equivalents. However, research conducted by the project team using data from households in Renfrewshire has found this ‘energy spend gap’ is more significant than those statistics suggest, whilst other research has shown that influences on the energy spend of rural households are also highly multi-facted. The Speird Project validates and significantly expands on these findings across five areas of Scotland. The findings provide new evidence on the extent and segmentation of fuel poverty in Scotland – uncovering the ‘hidden geographies’ of fuel poverty across rural areas and the islands.

The full report and summary of this research can be accessed below:



Understanding the impact of smart prepayment on fuel poverty

Start Date October 2015
Completion Date October 2016
Grant Holders: Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE)
Main Contact Nicky Hodges, Centre for Sustainable Energy
Email: nicky.hodges@cse.org.uk


Prepayment (PPM) customers are known to be poorly served by the energy market, paying higher tariffs, having difficulty switching tariff and/or supplier and being at risk of self-disconnection. Numbers of PPM customers are rising (due to debt recovery) and there has been an early focus on PPM customers through the smart meter rollout.

This research will provide an early-stage snapshot of the impact of smart meter technology on PPM households. It will examine industry-wide statistical trends, and combine customer interviews with analysis of customer data to ascertain the extent to which benefits claimed from smart PPM (real-time data, flexible top-up options, greater control and reduced bills) are being realised and if benefits outweigh negatives (e.g. higher tariffs).

Research summary  

Full report