Research and Theory

Heartwarming Homes was born out of two pieces of research: the Northern Housing Consortium’s Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury and Placeshapers and Tpas research, Residents’ Voices in the Net Zero journey.

Both projects highlighted the importance of putting residents’ needs at the heart of energy efficiency programmes, and tailoring communication to each resident. Find out how you can address recommendations from these pieces of research here.

We want Heartwarming Homes to meet the needs of both residents and social landlords. We’ve worked with a Tenant Advisory Group and a Communications Advisory Group made up of representatives from the sector. The Behaviour Change Network held focus groups with both advisory groups and we worked with them on the toolkit.  We’ve also conducted a survey, attended events, had one-to-one meetings, and completed desk research.

Some key themes have emerged from the research.

Managing disruption

Worry about disruption was highlighted as the biggest tenant concern on the survey we sent out, and this has come up time and again in discussions with residents. Energy efficiency improvements can involve substantial work, so it’s understandable people have worries.

In the ‘making energy efficiency an easy choice’ section we look at practical ways we can help tenants overcome barriers to having work done.

It’s all about trust

Not all tenants trust their landlord – this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but we need to acknowledge this and for it to influence how we communicate. We found tenants trust other tenants most, and that a familiar face from the landlord is a close second.

In the ‘channels and resources’ section we look at how we can build on this by choosing the right communication channels. This covers word of mouth, resident ambassadors, and the importance of face-to-face communication. Face-to-face communication was king with the Tenant Advisory Group.

Doing what you say, when you say you will, will also help build trust.

Put residents at the heart

If we want to engage with residents, we need to put ourselves in their shoes. When we communicate, we need to think of who the audience are. The majority of residents are not building or housing professionals, so we need to make sure the language we use reflects this. Our ‘using the right language’ section will help you avoid industry jargon and explain things clearly.

It’s important to remember that properties we’re working on are people’s homes. People are more likely to want work done if they feel part of it – so give residents choices when you can. This could be offering them a choice of door and giving them a say in how their homes are redecorated (or offering them vouchers to buy supplies if they’d like to do it themselves). It’s also important to listen to what they say about their home – they live there so they’ll understand its quirks!

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