Engaging homeowners in energy efficient home improvement
The UK housing stock suffers from one of the lowest energy efficiency levels in Europe. This results in high annual carbon dioxide emissions and the grave problem of fuel poverty. While new dwellings achieve a certain level of energy efficiency through the standards enforced by the Building Regulations, the rate of replacement of the existing inefficient stock is extremely low. Significant improvements are possible through refurbishment, providing appropriate resources are available. But in a society where homeownership accounts for 70% of the total number of households, the future of most UK housing depends upon the will of private homeowners. While the political climate does not support the introduction of legislation to enforce retrospective energy standards in dwellings, the only realistic means to achieve the goal of an energy efficient homeowner-stock is to engage homeowners in the process, through energy efficient home-improvement. This is the challenge that drives this study. The thesis draws on interviews with relevant domestic energy efficiency programme providers and previous research within a variety of disciplines, in order to build an integrated conceptual framework for the design of domestic energy efficiency information and advice programmes for owner-occupiers. The thesis argues that an everyday householder-centred approach be taken by experts in the development of programmes, in order to increase the likelihood of engaging householders. The study focuses on the use of the Home Energy Report as a vehicle for providing information and advice. The proposed conceptual framework is compared with the views of homeowner-occupiers who have received such reports from their mortgage lenders in order to find support for and to further refine the framework themes. The study concludes with a series of recommendations for the development of the Government's proposed seller's pack home energy report programme based on the everyday householder-centred approach.