Date: 07/02/2024

Energy efficiency improvements in social housing are not just about reducing bills; they represent a critical step towards sustainability and enhancing the quality of life for residents. However, convincing tenants to embrace these changes can be challenging. To foster acceptance and support, we need to rethink our communication strategies and learn from successful behaviour change campaigns.

The Challenge of Social Housing

Social housing in the UK is vast and diverse, comprising 4.2 million homes. The complexity of this housing stock is significant: 40% are flats, and 45% were built before 1965. Many of these buildings were constructed between 1940 and 1970, often with outdated techniques and materials. Consequently, 35% of social homes require substantial energy efficiency upgrades to achieve an EPC rating of C. This represents a massive undertaking in terms of retrofitting and resident engagement.

Understanding Tenant Concerns

Before implementing energy efficiency measures, we often hear concerns from tenants:

To transition tenants from dissenters to promoters, we must address these concerns effectively. To achieve this, we use the EAST model.

Make It Easy: Removing Friction from the Process

Simplifying the process is crucial. Here are some strategies:

By making the process as straightforward and stress-free as possible, we can alleviate many of the concerns tenants may have.

Make It Attractive: Connecting to Personal Values

Statistics and technical jargon can often leave people cold. Instead, we need to:

Make It Social: Harnessing the power of Word of Mouth

People are more likely to adopt changes that are endorsed by their fellow residents:

Make It Timely: Capitalising on Key Moments

Timing can significantly influence acceptance:

A Collective Responsibility

Energy efficiency is not just a personal benefit but a collective necessity. Each decision we make contributes to the global challenge of climate change. By choosing differently and altering how we live, we can all be part of the solution rather than the problem.

Implementing change in real life

In partnership with Hull City Council (Hull CC), we have successfully implemented a fabric-first retrofit programme across over 3,000 properties in Hull, achieving 100% satisfaction and a remarkably low 2% work refusal rate.

Central to this success has been our comprehensive communication strategy with tenants. Our Customer Liaison Officers (CLOs) fostered trust and confidence through active listening, home visits, and pre-entry surveys to gather resident information, thoroughly explain the works, and offer continuous support. Additionally, we engaged residents who had completed work as champions to promote the benefits and reassure their neighbours.

Our commitment to customer-centric practices extends beyond standard industry norms, significantly enhancing resident satisfaction. Advanced training for our four dedicated liaison officers, including a bespoke course with TPAS, empowered them to communicate effectively with residents and design personalised care plans.

We designed extensive communication methods, including community roadshows, literature, animations, and a bespoke resident web portal, to keep residents informed and engaged. Open Access Meetings brought together all stakeholders for collaborative discussions, while BISRA ‘Soft Landings’ principles ensured long-term support and aftercare.


Convincing tenants to embrace energy efficiency improvements requires an integrated approach. By making the process Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely, we can address their concerns and support them to become active participants in this essential journey. As we move forward, we must remember that every small change contributes to a larger, positive impact on the communities that we service and the planet. Together, we can make a significant difference.

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