Using energy efficiency of buildings data to better target fuel poverty programmes
At HACT we have had numerous conversations with different housing providers who want to do their part in tackling fuel poverty and improving tenancy sustainment for their most at risk residents. These conversations usually end with the question - “are there other data sets we can use to help us prioritise our programmes?”. Well the answer is - YES.
OCSI has been working tirelessly to add more data to Community Insight around fuel poverty and we are proud to announce the addition of data on energy performance of buildings. When viewed on its own, these metrics can give interesting indications of which areas have higher proportions of energy efficient or inefficient buildings. However, the real insight comes from viewing this information alongside other indicators, and comparing across different areas, to ensure that resources tackling these issues are directed to the right places.
What can it be used for?
Target particular demographic groups likely to be living in fuel poverty
Energy efficiency data has powerful implications for resource allocation in relation to fuel poverty. Data on the energy efficiency of buildings can be used in combination with other social indicators, to identify areas that are likely to have a higher prevalence of people living in fuel poverty. For example, looking at energy efficiency data alongside Indices of Deprivation, housing tenure (e.g. owner occupied, private rented, social rented) and income status to identify areas containing a high proportion of fuel poor households under the LIHC definition.
This could be used further, to drill down to specific demographic groups, such as older people - or households with children under five years of age to identify priority areas for fuel poverty programmes to ensure that the most vulnerable, in the most energy inefficient households are reached.
Case study: Links between energy efficiency and respiratory & cardiovascular diseases
Data on home energy efficiency is being used as part of a study, aiming to build a picture of the links between energy efficiency and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The research project “modelling the impact of fuel poverty and energy efficiency on health” is being carried out by partners across Devon & Cornwall, including University of Exeter, Public Health Devon, Public Health Cornwall and CCGs. More details on this project can be found on Energy Saving Trust’s blog.
Although these research findings have not yet been published, we at HACT were excited to see the use of data from different disciplines being utilised for greater insight.
About the data
Data on the energy performance of buildings is based upon Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Each building is given a rating from A (very efficient) to G (very inefficient). The EPC also details how energy-efficient the building could be if improvements were made.
Some of the datasets have been aggregated to Output Area level by the Consumer Data Research Centre, which are now available in Community Insight. These datasets are:
- Current average energy efficiency (domestic buildings): The average energy efficiency of buildings in the area, based on the cost of energy per year per meter squared of the building. Energy efficiency scores range from 1 to 100 with 100 being the most efficient.
- Potential average energy efficiency (domestic buildings): The estimated potential energy efficiency of the buildings in the area
- Difference between current and potential energy efficiency (domestic buildings): This measure highlights places with the greatest, or least, potential to improve. A larger number suggests greater potential to increase energy efficiency
- Percentage of domestic buildings rated as A: The percentage of inspected domestic buildings that are rated as A, the most energy efficient rating
- Percentage of domestic buildings with potential to be rated as A: Similar to above, this is an estimate of the number of buildings that could be rated as A; and
- Difference between those rated as A and potentially rated as A: Indicates areas where the greatest potential for improvement is.
There are some known issues regarding EPCs and inaccuracies with the methodology and data collection, however they continue to be a very useful measure of energy efficiency. Therefore, when using the data there are a few caveats to bear in mind, so that data is not misinterpreted. The most relevant of these are outdated and duplicated EPC information on the register, which are not easily identified. EPC’s are also only available for homes that have been built, bought, sold or retrofitted since 2008. This represents about 50 to 60 per cent of homes within a local authority area. So a significant number of homes will have no data at all.
Explore the data for yourself
The data is available within Community Insight, alongside more than 800 other datasets. To find this data don’t forget to look under the unassigned data sets within Group Admin > Manage your indicators, and search for Energy.
Don’t have access to Community Insight? Request your free demo of Community Insight today by clicking here. A member of the HACT team will be in touch.