Retrofit: how do we engage the hearts and minds of customers?

  • 20th September 2023

  • Corporate news Sustainability

whg is proud to have contributed to Shakespeare Martineau’s Retrofit: Engaging the Hearts and Minds of Tenants report, which includes a landmark survey – of more than 730 respondents – garnering the attitudes and opinions of tenants about retrofitting their homes.

As well as exposing the needs and concerns of tenants, the report also highlights the need for more joined up thinking in funding retrofit programmes as well as warning that, without a more holistic climate view, some of the most energy-efficient homes today, could be over-heating in the future.

Results show that less than half of tenants (46%) report having had any energy saving technology installed in their homes in the past two years, despite 86% wanting to be more involved in the process of making their home more energy efficient.

Research also shows differences in understanding between different age groups, with tenants over 55 years of age more likely to raise concerns about understanding the process, works and technology.

This lack of understanding is consistent with a lack of knowledge or information: on average 64% of people either don’t know or aren’t sure about the options available to them for having their home retrofitted. This figure jumps up significantly for people aged 55+ to 84%.

Rob Gilham, Corporate Director of Strategy, Assets and Transformation at whg, said: “This research is really important in assessing the current state of play for residents when it comes to retrofitting programmes, and for us at whg, how we can engage with our residents throughout this process.

“We know that not all residents like or appreciate the same style of communication, so we need to be able to share the right information, with the right people, at the right time, and most importantly in the right way, so that we can all work together towards the 2050 net zero deadline.

“The decarbonisation and retrofit of our homes is a key area of our recently launched Sustainability Strategy, and we look forward to working with our customers, communities, colleagues and sector partners to embed sustainability even further across all that we do.”

Undertaking retrofit projects is a significant challenge for the social housing sector, which owns 4.4 million properties across the UK, many of which are classed as ageing housing stock.

Research shows that substandard housing is costing the NHS £1.4 billion a year, from slips, trips, falls as well as issues from drafts, damp and poor insulation.

Louise Drew, head of building communities at law firm Shakespeare Martineau and lead author of the report, said: “A good home creates savings elsewhere – and given the NHS is seeing immense pressure, why aren’t we connecting the dots?

“If we started recording what mattered, such as data that demonstrates the benefits high-quality homes have on health and wellbeing, including a consistency in temperature and accessibility, then the government could introduce pay-backs for providers who can demonstrate health improvements through housing, which can be reinvested back into the housing stock and community.”

Download the full report.

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