Understanding the leaky pipeline of energy-saving home improvements

Start date

September 2022

End date

April 2023


The UK Net Zero Carbon target is a bold commitment to reduce the UK’s green-house gas emissions, and will provide opportunities for new ‘clean’ businesses and improving the energy efficiency of homes and businesses. All UK local authorities have plans to support the transition to net zero. However, it is a stretching target, and reaching the most inefficient homes is proving challenging for many councils.

This collaborative research project is led by Dr Tom Roberts (Sociology) with Prof Ian Walker (University of Swansea) and Dr Chris Jones (University of Portsmouth), in partnership with climate change colleagues from Surrey County Council.

The challenge: there is currently low uptake of council supported schemes to install home decarbonisation measures such as thermal insulation and photovoltaic panels (PV).  Surrey County Council has commissioned an independent research team from the University of Surrey to evaluate their schemes and explore ways in which the customer experience, and take-up of measures, could be improved. 

The project examines the structural and psychological factors that prevent people who could make use of such initiatives from registering their interest and following through to installation (i.e., what factors explain the leaky pipeline in stimulating interest and converting interest into action)?

The team are running two primary studies: one quantitative survival analysis; and one qualitative interview and review-based study. These two studies will be supplemented by a workshop, where the findings from the primary research will be discussed with the relevant stakeholders.  

The project will provide a clearer profile of Surrey residents and their propensity to engage with home decarbonisation campaigns.  A final report will be provided with a list of intervention recommendations that can be trialled to help increase uptake of future schemes and reduce attrition.