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Able-to-pay retrofit research

A street of terrace houses

Exploring the retrofit motivations and needs of Bristol homeowners with an income of £30,000 or more.

Project duration: January 2022 to June 2022

Bristol City Council commissioned CSE to research the motivations and needs of a Bristol homeowners who applied for the council’s Bright Green Homes scheme grant in March 2021 but were non-eligible due to their income level.

These are households with a gross annual income of more than £30,000 who didn’t qualify for the Bright Green Homes grant which is targeted at low-income households.

The £30,000 threshold is not arbitrary, but is used by many government and private grant schemes in the housing retrofit sector. Households with an income above this level are described as ‘able-to-pay’ (ATP).

However, this cut-off point doesn’t take into account the circumstances and priorities of the household, for example the number of people living in the home, their health needs, the energy efficiency of the property and other financial demands. Many households with an income of just over the £30,000 threshold would not consider themselves well off, or able to afford much in the way of home improvements. This is why understanding this group is important for targeting future retrofit grants.

The research also sought to understand these households’ perspectives on installing home energy efficiency measures, particularly heat pumps and insulation.

An online survey followed by two focus groups yielded practical insights into the needs and preferences of a small group of Bristol residents. The research found that:

An aim of the research was to inform the council’s design of a retrofit scheme to integrate the needs of ATP retrofit customers.

An executive summary of the report is available on the council’s website here.

The full report is available on request from with the subject line ‘Able to pay retrofit research’.

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