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Warm Home Discount – Energy Advice: Consumer Experiences

Friday 7 November 2014

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Context

The Energy Act 2010 provided the Secretary of State with powers to introduce support schemes for the purpose of reducing fuel poverty. These powers have been exercised through the Warm Home Discount Regulations 2011 to establish the Warm Home Discount (WHD) scheme. The WHD scheme is a 4-year initiative running from April 2011 to March 2015. The scheme requires suppliers to provide direct and indirect support to customers in or at risk of fuel poverty. This support may be direct, through rebates to eligible customers, or indirect, through industry initiatives that provide assistance to customers in or at risk of fuel poverty.

Ofgem’s role is to administer the WHD Scheme and ensure that energy suppliers meet their obligations as set out in the WHD Regulations. As part of its administrative role, Ofgem wanted to gather evidence about the effectiveness of energy advice provided through the WHD industry initiatives.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the benefits of advice provided to consumers as part of the industry initiatives element of the Warm Home Discount Schemes. The research was carried out by OPM on behalf of Ofgem and sought to:

  • Explore the perceived benefits of the energy advice initiatives to consumers;
  • Unearth the factors in the consumer experience and circumstances that underpin these benefits;
  • Understand more about how behaviour change happens for different types of consumers; and
  • Highlight what might prevent advice being acted upon.

Conclusion

  • Consumers can benefit in a range of ways from the schemes
  • There is a role for third party intermediaries in the provision of advice to vulnerable consumers
  • Consumer benefit can be enhanced when provision closely matches need
  • The evidence supports a mixed economy of provision in advice services
  • Behaviour change is conditional on a range of competing factors
  • Mode of delivery may have an impact on behaviour change
  • Support can be key to more vulnerable consumers adopting advice
  • Wider initiatives are also valued by consumers