Purpose – This paper aims to, using a systematic mixed-methods based monitoring and evaluation approach, investigate the unintended consequences of physical and technical home improvements on energy use, indoor environmental conditions and occupant behaviour in community-led retrofits. The study is part of a UK Research Council funded research project on evaluating the impacts and effectiveness of low carbon communities on energy behaviours. Design/methodology/approach – A graduated measurement, monitoring and evaluation framework has been developed and applied to gather quantitative and qualitative data on energy use and behaviours has been developed and applied to 88 households across the UK. A mixed-methods approach is used, including occupant interviews, questionnaires, activity diaries and continuous physical monitoring of energy use, environmental conditions and low-carbon technologies. Findings – The study has uncovered a number of unintended consequences associated with home energy improvements, both beneficial and detrimental, including improved comfort levels in retrofitted dwellings and reduction in energy use but also an increased likelihood of overheating following fabric improvements, potential under-performance of low-carbon systems due to lack of understanding and inadequate installation and commissioning, along with adaptive energy behaviours leading to increased energy use and a widening gap between predicted and actual savings. Research limitations/implications – Although 63 case study households are involved, it is difficult to provide statistical analysis from the emerging findings. Practical implications – This paper demonstrates the unintended consequences of home energy improvements. It aims to bring awareness of these issues to various sectors and stakeholders involved in delivering community retrofit programmes or the National Green Deal programme. Originality/value – The paper fulfils an identified need to study the impacts of home energy improvements within existing homes through a robust, comprehensive M&E approach.
International Journal of Energy Sector Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 28, 2014
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