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Living in cold homes after heating improvements: Evidence from Warm-Front, England's Home Energy Efficiency Scheme


This study investigated explanatory factors for persistent cold temperatures in homes which have received heating improvements. It included an analysis of data from a national survey of dwellings and households (in England occupied by low-income residents) that had received heating improvements or repairs under the Warm Front Scheme. The results were that cold homes predominate in pre-1930 properties where the householder remains dissatisfied with the heating system despite major improvements funded by Warm Front. Residents of cold homes are less likely to have long-standing illness or disability, but more likely to experience anxiety or depression. A small sample of telephone interviews reveals those preferring lower temperatures for health or other reasons, report less anxiety and depression than those with limited control over their home environment. Their ‘thermal resistance’ to higher temperatures challenges orthodox definitions of comfort and fuel poverty.