Green Doctor: An effective way to address fuel poverty in low-income households
The Green Doctor project took place between 2003 and 2006. It involved free, one-off visits to low-income households in priority wards in Leicester city. It aimed to address energy and environmental problems such as fuel poverty, waste and water use using a combination of measures. Placewise’s role was to evaluate the impacts of the Green Doctor project. The project was commissioned by Groundwork, Leicester. We designed an evaluation that drew on four sources of data:
- existing literature about the project
- data from home visits by Green Doctors
- face-to-face interviews with past and present Green Doctors
- telephone interviews with householders who had energy saving measures installed in their homes.
Our findings showed that the Green Doctor was successful in addressing fuel poverty because it offered an integrated approach to physical, technical, economic and behavioural aspects of energy consumption. Over a three year period 794 home visits were carried out. These visits saved £9,971 per year in energy costs. Overall there was a saving of £59,826 over the three year lifetime of the project. These financial savings were matched by carbon savings. There was an estimated 68,154 kg (68.15 tonnes) of carbon saved per year and 408,922 kg (408.92 tonnes) of carbon saved over three years. With no charge to households for the Green Doctor visit, the capital costs of the energy-savings measures or their installation, these figures represent significant financial and carbon savings for low-income households in the most deprived wards of the city.
Placewise concluded that the Green Doctor project was an innovative and effective means of reaching low income households and reducing fuel poverty. Our report shows that integrated energy solutions have the potential to contribute new understandings to UK policy and practice.