This report presents findings of a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) that aimed to test whether tailored advice from a ‘trusted messenger’ on how to use standard heating controls can reduce energy consumption.
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Previous research suggests that households find their heating controls, programmers and thermostats, confusing and difficult to use. As a result, energy may be wasted through overheating or by keeping heating on when homes or rooms are unoccupied. DECC commissioned this research to test whether tailored advice from a ‘trusted messenger’ on how to use standard heating controls can reduce energy consumption. The trial was designed by the Behavioural Insights Team and implemented by Newcastle City Council with the assistance of local partners. NatCen Social Research conducted a process evaluation alongside the trial and has been responsible for integrating the results of these activities into this report.
The trial tested whether the provision of personalised in-home advice on the three main heating controls led social housing tenants in Newcastle to change their energy use. It was carried out over a six month period between October 2013 and May 2014. Levels of gas consumption were compared to a group of tenants who receive a simple leaflet alongside their boiler check, and a control group who received their gas boiler safety check as normal.
The research suggests that people found the information and advice helpful to improve understanding of how to use their controls. However, results of the trial show that this did not significantly reduce gas consumption during the trial period.