Make energy efficiency an easy choice

Analysis by the Behaviour Change Network found that approaches to tackling climate change, in this case having energy efficiency work done on your home, must remove barriers that limit individual action.

The easier you make it for residents, the more likely they are to be happy about having work done. This also feeds into creating a great resident experience, so it’s a win, win!

The project focus groups identified barriers that residents may face to agreeing to have energy efficiency work completed in their home. These are listed below along with some practical ways you can work with residents to overcome them.

Our research suggests these recommendations should be an integral part of your project plan – they can’t be boxed off under communications.

Concern Ways to overcome the concerns
The disruption caused by the work. Take a person-centred approach and offer practical support to overcome disruption. This will vary from person-to-person as everyone has different needs. The best way to identify resident concerns is through a face-to-face discussion with a dedicated customer engagement officer as soon it has been decided what work needs to be done on their home.

Support could include offering a loft clearance service for someone with a lifetime of possessions in their attic who is having loft insulation fitted. Or supporting a resident with finding kennels for their dog, if they are worried about how their pet will react to work being done in their home.

This approach requires extra resources. However, it means you’re less likely to incur costs due to tenants refusing access or not having their home ready for work to take place.

Lack of trust of the landlord, which can often stem from previous dissatisfaction with repairs. Our research suggests residents trust other residents the most. You can harness this by involving resident ambassadors and the power of word of mouth – find out more in our resident ambassador section.

Our tenant group said all residents should be offered a single point of contact and the opportunity to see this contact face-to-face when they need to. Feedback from housing organisations also suggests face-to-face engagement is the best way to build trust, increase resident satisfaction and help projects run smoothly.

You can also build trust with residents by actively involving them in the process and letting them make choices where possible. This could be things like offering them a choice of door or giving them a say in how their homes are redecorated (or offering them vouchers to buy supplies if they want to do it themselves). It’s also important to listen to what they say about their home as they live there, so they’re the experts.

Worry about how long work will take and what it will involve. Worry about how long work will take is a common concern. This can be mitigated by giving residents clear written timelines. If you are unsure about timings for the project, sharing a clear step-by-step process can be reassuring, even if it doesn’t include exact timings. There are some ideas for timelines in our letters section.

Face-to-face (group or one-to-one) demonstrations are the best way to show residents what is involved in the planned work. We also have links to some handy videos which explain more about different types of energy efficiency work in our videos section.

Lack of understanding about why improvements are needed. You can raise awareness of energy efficiency improvements in newsletters and on your website and social media channels. Some landlords are even running face-to-face events in their communities to raise awareness of energy efficiency. You can find out more about this in the ‘Communicating with the wider customer group’ section.

However, when contacting residents directly about proposed work it’s best to assume initially they have little or no knowledge about energy efficiency improvements. Broadcasting information or holding events will not reach everyone.

Make sure you use simple language and avoid jargon in letters. Arrange face-to-face meetings to explain the work you have planned, why it’s being done and what the process is. You can hold community events or use demonstration homes.

You can also share online resources or printed factsheets with residents. We have a selection of videos available you share with residents.

Worry about new technology. Ensure you offer the right support with using new technology. What this looks like will vary from resident to resident. This includes demonstrations when technology is fitted, follow up visits after it’s been fitted, written instructions and links to online demonstration videos (QR codes can be put on appliances linking to videos or online instruction manuals).

The Northern Housing Consortium has created a self-assessment checklist to help landlords meet recommendations from the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury. It includes lots of recommendations about how to meet the needs of residents, so it could be a useful extra resource.

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