Living Lab Urban Area – Manchester, UK.
Urban areas have been highlighted as “the primary site for the geographic expression and articulation” of energy poverty (Bouzarovski et al., 2017).
Energy poverty has increased in most Greater Manchester districts in recent years (UK Government, 2015). In 2014 14.5% of households (30,222) in Greater Manchester were classed as fuel poor – above the national average of 10.6%. Many parts of the urban conglomeration contain ageing and poorly insulated housing, whilst average incomes are low and poverty rates high compared to national averages, leaving residents particularly vulnerable to energy poverty. Energy poverty has also been linked to ‘excess winter mortality’, as living in cold homes can exasperate existing health issues and illnesses. Recently published excess winter mortality figures show many of Greater Manchester areas having higher than national average rates.
What STEP-IN does.
The Living Lab is operated jointly by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the University of Manchester. It adds to existing energy poverty actions being undertaken by GMCA. The University of Manchester assesses and evaluates the techniques being used.
The Living Lab engages with and builds upon GMCA’s Local Energy Advice Programme (LEAP) for 2018-2019. LEAP is a service that provides free advice and support to energy poor and vulnerable households, alongside offering energy efficiency measures that are in some cases also free of charge. The Living Lab has access to resources and trained energy advice experts, alongside GMCA’s existing networks and expertise in working with vulnerable households.
The Living Lab is conducted within the Greater Manchester Combined Authority where increasing rates of energy poverty in recent years have been encountered. It is estimated that 900 households (300 in each Local Authority area) will be engaged.
The benefits to citizens living in Greater Manchester are more sustainable energy behaviour and choices in their everyday life, without compromising comfort levels. We help them understand their energy bills, how to switch their energy supplier, and how to save energy by using efficient technologies and changing energy usage behaviour.
UK households living in energy poverty (2014)
of all English households
Greater Manchester households classed as energy poor (2014)
of Greater Manchester Households
Living lab characteristics.
The Urban Area Living Lab targets low income households, single parent households, elderly households, and households in which somebody is disabled or has a long-term illness.