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Energising homeowners: Research into consumer decision-making on energy efficiency improvements

1 August 2016

Energising homeowners [PDF 0.56 mb] sets out a framework for encouraging consumers to invest in energy efficiency measures, based on an understanding of real consumer decision-making.

There is a clear consumer case for making homes more energy efficient, whether through loft insulation or modern heating systems. Energy efficiency is one of the best ways to control bills in the long run. More progress on making our homes more efficient is needed if Government is to meet its carbon and fuel poverty targets.

Currently, energy efficiency policy is at a crossroads. The Government has indicated it will focus subsidies on helping households in fuel poverty. We welcome this focus. However it leaves a considerable gap in policies to encourage ‘able-to-pay’ households to install measures. In this context, creating the right environment for consumers is key to increasing take-up.

The design of the past schemes, notably Green Deal and ECO, failed to adequately reflect consumer decision making. We commissioned research into how consumers think and make decisions about home energy efficiency improvements. Rather than assuming that householders will take economically rational decisions in terms of return on investment, we must understand non-financial motivations, and take into account consumers’ preference for short term gain and avoidance of loss.

This research - carried out for Citizens Advice by Accent - provides a deeper understanding of the factors and process which influence consumer decision-making in this area. It consisted of a desk review of the available behavioural evidence and detailed qualitative research with a range of able to pay consumers. A qualitative approach allowed us to get detailed insight into consumer priorities, decision-making and likely responses to incentives. The full research report is available here [PDF 2 mb].

Energising Homeowners draws on the consumer insights from that report and sets out the policies needed to drive consumer action on energy efficiency in four areas.