Warm Home Discount (WHD): research into consumer experiences of receiving energy advice

Publication date
5th November 2014
Information types
Policy areas

The Warm Home Discount (WHD) scheme requires participating suppliers to provide a total of £1.13 billion of support to those in or at risk of fuel poverty over four years. The majority of this support is through rebates is to eligible customers, but can also be through third parties who provide things like advice on saving energy, or help with managing energy debt.

While the benefit of a direct financial rebate to a customer is clear, we want to find out more about the impact of some of the indirect support the WHD provides, and particularly to understand how energy advice services can benefit vulnerable consumers.

Research

We commissioned a research project to talk to a sample of consumers from eight different energy advice services. The services ranged from a national telephone advice service to small local in-home initiatives. From these eight services, 45 consumers were selected at random for interview.

Findings

Our research found that energy advice schemes have a range of benefits for fuel poor consumers including:

  • warmer homes
  • financial benefits
  • greater peace of mind
  • being able to negotiate their energy choices

The research also showed that giving consumers advice about energy efficiency or engagement with the market does not guarantee positive behaviour change. Instead, it depends on factors including:

  • how the advice is provided
  • the content of the advice
  • the consumers’ understanding
  • consumers’ life circumstances and vulnerability.

You can read the findings in full in the report produced by OPM below. A sample of the views given by consumers can also be seen in our videos: Energy advice and the WHD.

Next steps

We’ve shared the outcomes of this research with stakeholders to drive improvements in the delivery of indirect support to consumers through the WHD, and energy saving advice in particular. We also hope that the finding can inform government’s future policies in this area.