Harnessing innovation to better understand and reduce vulnerability to fuel poverty, designing smarter policies, products, services and consumer protections

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Innovating to end fuel poverty in vulnerable households

Fair Futures explores the opportunities for innovation to address fuel poverty, and better understand the issues faced by vulnerable energy consumer groups in the UK.

Fair Futures aims to identify the areas where commercial, governmental, community and household living needs and motivations could be aligned to provide more effective policies, products and services.

In order to understand how to design and deliver services to consumers facing difficulties with low household incomes and the high cost of adequate energy in their homes, Energy Systems Catapult is trying to better understand what people need and want from energy in their home.

This could decrease the risk of undertaking innovation, for both businesses and consumers, and could be applied to developing new propositions, improving customer handling procedures and meeting new policy obligations and changes.

Increase your market

Increase your consumer market by gaining greater insight of vulnerable customers’ needs and challenges when developing innovative new products and services.

Decrease risk

Decrease the risk of undertaking innovation, when developing new propositions, improving customer handling procedures and meeting new policy obligations and changes.

Better target vulnerable consumers

Our independent status means we are trusted to work across both public and private sectors – connecting and convening stakeholders, data and design – to pioneer innovations that improve the targeting of services to consumers that are hard to reach.

Case Studies

Warm Home Prescription

Warm Home Prescription is a new service invented by Energy Systems Catapult and is being trialled across England and Scotland, helping people who struggle to afford energy and have severe health conditions made worse by the cold.

Millions of people in the UK have health conditions – such as respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses – that are made worse by living in a cold home. With over 10,000 people dying each year in England and Wales.

Experts in our Fair Futures team realised that there must be a better solution to providing support. Drawing on previous research and studies aimed at supporting people with health conditions made worse by the cold, they asked the question:

What if the health service could prescribe a low carbon warm home to households who need it?

Buying the energy that the most vulnerable people need but cannot afford could help keep them stay warm and well at home, rather than becoming ill and needing costly care. Targeting can be significantly improved by working with the NHS, who know about the population’s health and the costs associated with living in a cold home.

First piloted by Energy Systems Catapult in Gloucestershire over winter 2021/22 with local NHS partners and local energy advice organisations, we then undertook the largest trial of its kind in 2022/23, supporting 823 vulnerable and low-income individuals in Aberdeen, Middlesbrough, Gloucestershire and London. These groups are identified in the national health and social care advice (NICE Guideline NG6).

Findings from the 2022/23 trial provide strong support for the impacts of the WHP project. Positive outcomes were reported by WHP recipients and healthcare professionals alike.

This trial aims to determine how providing a low carbon warm home can improve people’s health and reduce their use of the health service, saving the NHS money overall and easing pressure on frontline staff. A warm and healthy home must be central to any consumer-centred vision we have for changing how people use energy in their home as we move towards a smart, flexible Net Zero energy system.

Watch the Gloucestershire case study:

How to work with us

We are not-for-profit, independent and technology-agnostic – building a trusted track record of delivering thought leadership, collaborative R&D and commercial commissions – so are uniquely placed to take on the challenges that others cannot tackle.

Collaborate with us: We work with partners from the public and private sectors to secure funding and collectively deliver the innovation projects and thought leadership that tackle the hardest challenges in the way to Net Zero.

Commission us: We offer independent support, evidence and insights – with technical, commercial and policy expertise – to identify and deliver Net Zero innovation priorities. Then actively support clients to develop actionable plans for implementation.

Contact us

If you are interested in working with us, contact the Consumer Insight team by completing the form and one of the team will be in touch.

Contact us

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