User perspectives in low energy housing

Project Director: Aimee Ambrose
Project Duration: 2012-2013

The project ran from March 2012 to March 2013 and used video to capture the realities of living in an eco-home.  Through three case studies of recent low energy housing developments located in Nottingham, Rotherham and Manchester/Salford we worked with residents to understand the benefits, pitfalls and daily challenges of living in a low energy home. We wanted residents to be able to tell their own story about low energy life in their own words and allowed them to guide the researchers and film crew around their homes explaining things like why they lived there, where they had lived in the past and how their current home compared to previous properties, what they liked about their home and what they found more challenging. Watch the three videos to find out what residents thought of their homes. A short summary video is also available which pulls together key insights from across the three films.

The research revealed that those residents who had elected to live in low energy homes were more inclined to persevere with the more challenging technology in the home whereas those who had been allocated an eco-home through the social housing system were more likely to become exasperated and bewildered by the technical and unfamiliar features of the home. Overall, it was clear that, regardless of tenure, occupants had received little advice and support in getting to  grips with their homes and had instead been lumbered with complex and technical manuals which were felt to be of little use. As a result of this lack of information some occupants were struggling to take advantage of the potential financial and carbon savings that their homes were designed to yield. In spite of this lack of information, those most committed to living an ‘eco lifestyle’ had worked hard to master the systems within their homes and had worked out how to get the best from their properties. They had done so by studying manuals and seeking peer support from neighbours.

The project team also includes Barry Goodchild (Sheffield Hallam University) and Fin O’Flaherty (Sheffield Hallam University).

Please see the projects Facebook page for further information

Project films

'Key Messages' summary film

Manchester and Salford film

Nottingham film

Rotherham film

Project team

Professor of Energy Policy, BA (Hons), MSc, PhD


Economic and Social Research Council
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