Home Visits Plus - improving our advice giving

Using behavioural change theory and installing small measures

Project duration: July 2017 to July 2017

How can we improve the outcomes for the people we help is the central question behind this new home energy project. Home Visits Plus does what it says on the tin – our energy advice home visits but with ‘more’.

This ‘more’ is a specifically two things:

  1. Advice based on theories of behavioural change. We’ve looked into the latest behavioural science to understand what motivates people to make a change, and how we can incorporate this knowledge into our advice giving.
  2. Practical small measures to improve the warmth and comfort of people’s homes including installing draught proofing, LED lightbulbs, smart thermostats and water cylinder insulation jackets.

Keeping people warm in their homes is part of our core mission. Every year we visit about 300 people in the South West to help them do this by explaining their energy bills and showing them how to use their heating systems, giving advice on damp and mould, debt problems and a host of other energy-related issues. We’re proud to say that these visits often play in a role in improving people’s quality of life, emotional wellbeing and health.

But we’re always interested in finding out how we can do better, and Home Visits Plus is a part of that. Sometimes, people don’t take up our advice and don’t take the actions we recommend. We’re interested to see if changing how we give advice and what we do on a home visit improves the outcomes for the people we visit and helps them to take action.

For example, we tend to focus our advice on whatever action is most likely to save the most money for a client. Often this involves the client changing their behaviour in some way – e.g. switching to a cheaper tariff, or using their central heating instead of electric radiators. But there are various reasons why people don’t want to (or aren’t able to) do these things.

In response to this we’re spending more time understanding what our home visit clients want to do or feel able to do (even if that isn’t necessarily going to “help” them the most) and in some cases taking the first steps of that action ourselves (e.g. changing a lightbulb or putting in radiator reflectors).

The effects of this new style of home visit will be monitored and analysed by the CSE research team. This will then feedback into and improve how we deliver home visits across all of our projects.

If you're interested in this project you might like to have a look at other projects trialling new methods of advice giving. See Chariot and Smart and Snug (using the internet of things to give detailed data-based advice) and WHAM (an innovative collaboration with two other Bristol advice agencies).

For further information contact:

Kate Thomas | 0117 934 1429

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