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Energy Efficient Scotland Transition Programme Survey Evaluation

This report presents the social evaluation of the Energy Efficient Scotland Transition Programme, which aimed to support local authorities’ engagement with households and businesses expected to self-fund energy efficiency improvements.


Conclusions

This evaluation research has demonstrated positive impacts of energy efficiency pilot programmes across eight local authorities in Scotland. The main conclusions and key lessons are summarised below.

Engagement with Energy Efficient Scotland Transition Programme Pilots

Of those respondents who did recall receiving advice, more than three-quarters stated this was from the local authority Energy Efficient Scotland project. This demonstrates significant engagement and public awareness, but needs to be understood in the context of the 13% respondents who did not recall contact, indicating that relatively short-term, and limited scale, forms of engagement are insufficient to prompt concerted retrofit by homeowners.

A large majority of respondents (89%) who recalled contact from their local authority's Energy Efficient Scotland programme found the advice useful, and almost two-thirds (61%) had subsequently installed, or planned, measures to improve energy efficiency of their homes.

Although engagement strategies were used in combination, respondents regarded in-home visit or survey (38%); drop-in centre (31%) and leaflet or letter (31%) as most memorable.

Drop-in centres and project websites appeared to have highest proportion of respondents who took subsequent energy efficiency action (such as upgrade of heating which was the most frequent), with most of this group also using personal finance.

In-home surveys proved most effective for planning action (specifically solid or cavity wall insulation), which would be funded by HES loans.

Barriers to energy efficiency engagement

As noted above, a proportion of respondents did not recall receiving advice, despite prior engagement and consenting to research contact. The reasons are uncertain, but may be due to type of engagement, since some forms of advice were less frequently recalled (e.g. telephone advice line), or were not considered useful, and people may not associate these with the local authority project.

For those who did not proceed with energy efficiency measures, despite finding the advice useful, cost was a prominent factor. This is not surprising given the annual income of the majority of respondents was less than £30,000; most respondents stated they would require a grant, rather than an interest-free loan, to pay for some of the work. The primary reason given by those who did not find the advice useful was that it told them nothing new. This correlates with the fact that most respondents (85%) perceived themselves to be well informed, or quite well informed, about energy efficiency.

Key Lessons

The Energy Efficient Scotland Transition programme had a positive impact on many Scottish households, supporting the value of a long-term national programme to retrofit all buildings. Respondents looked to Home Energy Scotland and local authorities for trustworthy advice, and these findings support that local authorities are in a position to provide energy efficiency advice. Appropriate funding, skills, and staff capacity are needed to stimulate effective provision.

Respondents who engaged via in-home visit or survey were most likely to recall receiving advice. Drop-in centres had the highest percentage of respondents who thought the advice received was useful, although differences between methods were relatively small. The highest proportion of respondents who took action or planned to take action following energy efficiency advice were those engaged via drop-in centre and project website. Whilst there are no major distinctions between the effectiveness of these strategies, the findings suggest that each has strengths as a tool for community engagement, and merit further investigation.

Cost was the main barrier preventing respondents improving energy efficiency and most wanted grant support. Long-term, stable funding schemes, with an element of grant, are hence likely to be critical to increasing the pace and scale of home retrofits.

Lack of new, and tailored, information was perceived as a further barrier to action. Many householders stated they were already familiar with information provided, indicating the need for more specific advice, customised to household type, including conservation areas.

Finally, given the difficulties faced by local authorities seeking to engage businesses in action on building retrofit, a regulatory framework is likely to be necessary to oblige participation.

Contact

Email: HeatInBuildings@gov.scot

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