Nest is the Welsh Government’s demand led scheme designed to tackle fuel poverty in Wales. The scheme offers a package of free home energy improvement measures to households who are in receipt of a means tested benefit and who live in a very energy inefficient home with a Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) rating of F or G. Nest also provides advice on saving energy, money management, fuel tariffs, benefit entitlement checks and referral to alternative schemes to all householders in Wales.
In May 2014 Miller Research was commissioned to undertake an evaluation of the scheme. Miller worked in partnership with Brook Lynhurst Ltd and GfK to assess whether the scheme has provided excellent customer service; had reached households most in need; had resulted in energy savings for householders; and had provided value for money for Welsh Government. Evidence for the evaluation was gathered through qualitative interviews with those involved in managing, delivering and benefiting from the scheme and from two large scale quantitative surveys of those benefiting from Nest and third party advice and household improvement packages.
Defining and targeting fuel poor households can be very difficult because being in fuel poverty is usually a combination of many different factors, including income of the household, the cost of fuel and the household’s requirement for fuel (determined by need, behaviour, fuel type and the quality of the property). The Nest scheme aimed to reduce fuel requirement by making properties more energy efficient and therefore reducing fuel bills for those experiencing fuel poverty.
The evaluation found that the scheme had been successful in reaching and supporting those suffering from fuel poverty. The scheme supported and provided advice to over 61,000 households; referred or signposted 20,000 households to third parties and provided over 15,000 households with a package of free home energy improvement measures. The SAP rating of the properties that received these measure increased in 94% of properties to a SAP rating of E or above (from F or G). The scheme successfully targeted those in fuel poverty and leveraged additional funding through the ECO scheme. Almost 90% of those who received improvement measures said that they were less concerned about heating their homes. The scheme also had wider impact, for example it supported 46 SMEs, creating a total of 83 apprenticeships, trainees and jobs.
Some areas for improvement were identified; including making the application process more accessible for certain groups who may have additional needs; ensuring that the eligibility criteria were not excluding households in need; and although the scheme aims to have a ‘whole house approach’, this was not always achieved in practice, with the majority of households receiving only a single measure.
The full report is available here: http://gov.wales/statistics-and-research/evaluation-nest-energy-efficiency-scheme/?lang=en