The Scottish Government has set ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Energy efficiency of buildings is a key component of this transition (Scottish Government Climate Change Plan, 2018-2031; Scottish Government Heat in Buildings Strategy, 2021).
The Energy Efficient Scotland programme is a Scottish Government initiative aimed at improving energy efficiency in homes, businesses and public buildings. As part of this programme, local authorities were invited to conduct pilots across three phases: Phase 1 (2016-2018), Phase 2 (2017-2019) and the Transition Programme (2018-2020).
This report presents the social evaluation of the Transition Programme, which aimed to support local authorities' engagement with households and businesses expected to self-fund energy efficiency improvements. The report discusses experiences and perceptions of the Transition Programme using findings from a survey of 490 households across eight Scottish local authority areas. It does not explore the experiences of local authorities or delivery partners running the engagement activities. It does not include any technical-economic cost-benefit analysis of different engagement methods.
The aim of the survey was to investigate the impact of different local engagement strategies on the uptake of domestic energy efficiency measures. Respondents were asked whether they had upgraded energy efficiency of their property after engagement with the programme, and if so, how improvements had been financed. Opinions on future local and national government engagement in domestic energy efficiency improvements were also sought.
These findings can be used alongside other evidence to inform heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency engagement programmes in Scotland.
- The Energy Efficient Scotland Transition Programme had a positive impact on Scottish households through advice, which has stimulated action. Respondents regarded advice from local authorities and Home Energy Scotland as trustworthy. The findings support that local authorities are in a position to provide energy efficiency advice. Appropriate resources, in terms of funding, skills, and staff capacity, are needed to support local authorities in order to support effective engagement and advice services, and catalyse effective change.
- Survey respondents engaged in the Transition Programme via in-home visit or home energy survey were most likely to recall receiving advice. Drop-in centres had the highest percentage of respondents who thought the advice received was useful. Those engaged via drop-in centre were also most likely to use personal finance when taking, or planning, energy efficiency measures. The highest proportion of respondents taking or planning action were those engaged either via a drop-in centre or project website. Findings that distinct engagement strategies had different effects on the likelihood of planning or installing energy efficiency measures merit further investigation.
- Cost was the primary barrier that prevented household respondents taking energy efficiency measures. Most respondents stated that they would need a grant (as opposed to an interest-free loan) to support their uptake of efficiency measures. These findings reinforce related proposals for increased, long-term funding for retrofit by homeowners.
- Lack of new information was a barrier to household change. Whilst the provision of information through the Transition Programme was beneficial, most householders believed they were already familiar with standard information. The Scottish Government and local authorities could provide more detailed information, tailored to household type, including those in conservation areas.
- The Transition Programme research findings also highlight the difficulties of engaging the non-domestic sector in energy efficiency improvements. This suggests the potential value of an obligatory framework to secure participation.
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