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The effects of home energy efficiency upgrades on social housing tenants: evidence from Ireland


  • Bryan Coyne, Sean Lyons, Daire McCoy


This research examines the impact of a home energy efficiency upgrade programme on social housing tenants. Employing a quasi-experimental approach we examine a range of objectively measured and self- reported outcomes, including metered gas consumption, for a control and upgrade group, before and after the upgrade. We draw our sample from a large home energy efficiency programme in Ireland, The SEAI Better Energy Communities Scheme, which provides funding for whole communities to upgrade the efficiency of their dwellings. Dwellings are selected for upgrade based on need, allowing us to control for observable dwelling characteristics correlated with selection into the trial. The upgrades undertaken are extensive relative to the average home energy improvement, with many dwellings receiving a number of measures. Households report improvements across a range of outcomes associated with heating-related deprivation and comfort in the home. Panel regression models examine the elasticity of gas demand with respect to the thermal efficiency of the dwellings. Overall, we find that use of natural gas falls much less than 1:1 for each increment to thermal efficiency of the home. For the average household in this study, about half of a marginal increase in thermal efficiency is reflected in reduced gas demand. This result highlights issues with standard engineering models which are commonly used to assess the energy efficiency of dwellings and points to a behavioural response from households, potentially taking back some of the savings as increased internal temperatures.

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  • Bryan Coyne, Sean Lyons, Daire McCoy, 2017. "The effects of home energy efficiency upgrades on social housing tenants: evidence from Ireland," GRI Working Papers 279, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  • Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp279

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    3. O'Malley, Seamus & Roantree, Barra & Curtis, John, 2020. "Carbon taxes, poverty and compensation options," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number SUSTAT98, March.
    4. James Carroll & Eleanor Denny & Ronan C. Lyons, 2020. "Better energy cost information changes household property investment decisions: Evidence from a nationwide experiment," Trinity Economics Papers tep1520, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.

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