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Motivating Ireland’s

Next Generation A Toolkit for the energy retrofitting industry

of Retrofitters


About This toolkit aims to assist those looking to engage and inspire Ireland’s next generation of retrofitters: the 18 to 35 year-olds. It is based on the results of the ‘Hot or Not’ behavioural campaign and research initiative that involved over 1,700 people across the island of Ireland.

Hot or Not aimed to: -

Advance understanding of attitudes towards & knowledge of retrofitting amongst the under 35 age group;


Experiment with an alternative approach to engagement using creative web 2.0 tools;


Develop recommendations for improving uptake of retrofit grants and energy efficient behaviour.

Report structure













Desk Research & Stakeholder Engagement

Concept Development

Survey Campaign & Analysis

Desk research and stakeholder engagement, both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland led to the identification of the following key issues:

- Need to extend the reach & uptake of existing and future retrofit grants; - The under 35's are proving hard to target; - Upgrading the rental stock is a difficult task; - Creative ways of engagement and web 2.0 platforms are underutilised.

To address this gap, the 'Hot or Not' initiative was created. Hot or Not used social media to engage the under 35's target audience and to encourage them to complete an online survey hosted on a dedicated ‘Hot or Not’ website.

A fun and unified brand was created, distinguished by its cheerful and intriguing presentation. (See ‘Concept’)

Report & Toolkit Development & Design

Results were analysed and a toolkit was developed containing innovative tools to foster behaviour change.


Concept Hot or Not aimed to: 1) Reach early adopters (including tenants, who have the potential to become future homeowners, first-time buyers and young homeowners); 2) Experiment with an alternative approach to engagement devoid of technicalities and utilising creative tools; 3) Test general awareness of retrofitting and its related grant schemes along with barriers to adoption; 4) Develop recommendations to improve communications around retrofitting, sustainable energy consumption and uptake of future grant schemes. We decided to apply the ‘fun theory’ (see page The 11) and designed an appealing and intriguing campaign called ‘Hot or Not?’ The campaign logo featured a couple showing the two extremes of personal perceptions of warmth.

The campaign was promoted online with a ‘vox pop’ video of people sharing their experiences of the ‘big freeze’ of Winter 2011. This was posted on the Hot or Not Facebook page, website and YouTube.

To entice our target population of ‘early adopters’ to complete the ‘Hot or Not?’ survey, a prize of two Electric Picnic tickets were offered and a viral campaign was kicked off on Facebook. 1,733 people took part within 2 months.

Through the online interactive survey, vox Interaction pop interviews, YouTube videos, and Facebook networking, ‘Hot or Not?’ provided the best of positive multi-media engagement and interaction.

Fun Theory

Viral Outreach

Sharing Stories


Summary of survey findings Survey responses show very low awareness of the availability of grants for home energy efficiency improvements (including insulation, heating controls and boiler efficiency) – an average of 70% did not know that grants were available. Participants showed little understanding of the most suitable retrofit measures for their home. Willingness to uptake is high and the amount of grant assistance seems to be at an adequate level to foster uptake. Confusion over technical terms – including the term retrofitting itself, goes hand in hand with a lack of understanding of the details and benefits of various kinds of home insulation. ‘Eco Bling’ is a new trend as young people want to show off their empathy toward environmental issues and their commitment to contributing to a better works. See figures pages 20 to 22

Profile of survey participants Age profile: 18-25 = 34% | 26-35 = 50% | 36-45 = 13% | 46-65 = 3% Homeowners 33%; Tenants 67% 93% agreed with the statement “we need to consider the climate change impacts of our daily decisions (e.g. in the transport we use, the food we eat, the products we buy)”




FINDINGS & SURVEY QUOTES 1. People are receptive to emotional cues rather than technical details Emotional cues (relating to warmth and comfort) can be powerful hooks and should be drawn upon in education and marketing around retrofit grants. “We did it as part of a full refurbishment of our house. It makes your house feel like a new home as well as nice and cosy!” 2. People are more concerned about immediate losses than future gains Communications should emphasise that retrofitting helps homeowners to “avoid loosing heat and money” as opposed to emphasising future savings potential “The cost prevents me from doing it. Cost, and also proof that it’s going to reduce heat loss. I need to know that it does what it says it’s going to do”. 3. Life changes can provide windows of opportunity Target initiatives and communications towards those in life changing times (moving home, starting a family) “We insulated when we moved house around 8 years ago.” 4. The way people access information has shifted A dedicated, one-stop shop website, with a simple diagnostic questionnaire could help homeowners through the first steps and direct them to the most suitable grant. “Someone approaching me and sorting it for me rather than me having to be proactive”. “Don't have enough information on it. Don't know who to ask to carry out work. If I was better informed and knew who to contact about getting it done I would!” “Hassle and laziness. We've talked about it, but never actually gotten around to it”. 5. Finance remains a major barrier - many are unaware of grant schemes Information on grants through existing channels of communication (e.g. through estate and letting agents, home stores, mortgage lenders) and social marketing may improve awareness. “my house is half done... I understand the importance of retrofitting but cannot afford to complete the necessary alterations...we will have to win the lottery to be able to complete it...” 7. There is uncertainty around the benefits of retrofitting Personal stories & peer-to-peer sharing of experiences (pre, during, post retrofit), can help demonstrate benefits “[What prevents me = Cost & unreliable tradespeople. What would get me to do it = Reliable tradesperson. Being convinced by someone who has already done it and can show substantial savings to heating bill” 8. Many in the rental market would like to retrofit but are uncertain how to target landlords Pressure should be exerted on landlords to use retrofit grants perhaps through positive praise “I would do this immediately if I owned my own property. We have talked to our landlord about upgrading the house and the grants that are available for him. Because it would not just benefit us with our bills and comfort, but would make his house more eco-friendly and also upgrade the price of it.” 9. People like social recognition for their positive actions Visible rewards and positive reinforcement tools should be used to praise action, rather than castigating inaction. See Eco-Bling trend p.21




Emotional drivers are powerful motivators People react to and identify with shared experiences, stories and feelings. Fun and feel good factors are key triggers.


Pro-Active Information The rules of communication have drastically changed. People expect information to come to them in real time, through their daily social media tools. Peer to Peer Validation Targeted & approved information. Crowdsourcing Power of the Group. Rewarding Show the love!


Emotional engagement Marketing has seen a dramatic shift in the last decade. The story around a product or service and how it fits with consumer lifestyles is as important as its functional considerations. The key to this strategy is to understand the desires and emotions of the target audience and tap into these to deliver the right message. This is also true for traditional PR but recent campaigns have revolutionised this level of interaction by getting involved in activities with seemingly little direct link to the product, but which represent similar values and lifestyles their consumers aspire to. The resulting success has shown that tapping into people’s emotional rather than rational drivers is the most efficient vehicle for lasting behaviour change. This is particularly the case for environmental behaviours where simple provision of information has been shown to be an ineffective motivator.

Global brands have already tapped into this resource: How to create Stories that connect and inspire Nike and the Chalkbot

How to bring people together around their hobbies and Passions Innocent and the Big Knit / Vodafone guerrilla knitting /

How to use Fun to foster lasting behaviour change Volkswagen and the Fun Theory


Stories Storytelling is proven to be one of the best ways of communicating ideas. Stories provide a platform for connecting hearts and minds and providing shared experiences. They are especially powerful in Ireland where there is a strong oral culture. Social factors, moral influences and emotional hooks are powerful drivers and can often override self-interest and cost-benefit analyses in making decisions and in our daily energy use behaviour. Stories & visuals about retrofitting could be based around notions of family, comfort and giving yourself a ‘treat’.


Passion People’s hobbies and passions provide in-routes for communications. They bring together audiences already receptive to similar ideas. Current trends such as DIY and hipster fashion are also stepping stones to various target groups. Informal channels such as guerrilla marketing and social networks are more suitable to this approach. These often use unexpected interventions and communications without overt connections to the source/agenda. This grabs attention and creates an enduring and positive association to build a gradual platform of support.

People respond better to positive and fun communications over serious messaging. ’Fun’ makes complex ideas and services look easy, entertaining and enjoyable. Fun catches people’s attention and dispels fear of change. Bright colour schemes, pictures that tell the story of happy people and diagrams rather than text convey fun messaging. Video and interactive tools are preferred online solutions.


Integrated universal website Access to information on retrofitting – its purpose and implications, and how to go about getting a home energy efficiency retrofit was identified as a key barrier within the Hot or Not research. Survey results showed significant evidence of misinformation around the costs involved, finance covered by grants, and grant eligibility. Finding the right path through the jungle of information was described as ‘stressful’ and ‘hassle’. However, once comfortable with their choice of contractor, home improvers are ready to put up with physical inconveniences. The current shift in information consumption means that audiences will only go to certain lengths to look for information. New rules require more direct forms of outreach (e.g. through social communities). Interaction is the key to engaging homeowners in the process of retrofitting. Interactive tools need to be made prevalent within the various online and physical platforms. (E.g. apps, educational games, QR codes...)

The tools that make your communication engagement simpler: -

Hoot Suite, a solutions for Social Media Management Google Play, not just for games but also all android apps Survey Gizmo, new generations of interactive surveys There are also a number of providers for the creation of interactive, targeted websites.


One Stop Shop A unified campaign would dramatically increase visibility of the various companies and organisations involved in the process of retrofitting. This campaign would run under a single story based on novel communication methods described in this Toolkit. It would also operate as an online One-Stop-Shop that would assemble in a simple and concise manner, the various schemes and processes on offer.


It is crucial that new audience outreach gets a unified image on a dedicated website, separate from retrofit organisations websites.

Integration Thanks to social media, blogs and networks, people now have access to realtime information, pre-selected and reviewed by peers. Social platforms attract a growing number of target groups and are no longer confined to younger generations. They are based on the principle of sharing amongst communities of common interest, therefore allowing for low-cost viral (as opposed to centrally run) campaigns. More traditional forms of ‘offline’ information are not to be overlooked as they reach to specific audiences and sometimes initiate first contact with online tools. They will also benefit from novel engagement methods.

Interactive information and responsiveness can be made simpler on traditional methods of communication (leaflets etc) by offering tools such as texting and QR codes. Interaction adds playfulness to the process of finding information and therefore is the very first step in the ‘fun theory’. ‘Hot or Not’ took 1,733 internet surfers through the journey of answering 15 questions about a topic they had no interest in by using an adequate motivator as well as a fun, interactive and user-friendly survey tool. Interaction is also pedagogical and therefore can act as an educational tool for future retrofitters.


Access Visibility

Hot Buddies


Connecting Potential New Home-Improvers

Rating Retrofit

This concept is intended to match people in a locality who wish to retrofit in order to gain economies of scale. Homeowners log their intention to retrofit, together with details of what they want done on a Google map app online. They can easily view if anyone else in their area is also considering retrofit. Groupings are formed in this manner and self-organising area-based retrofits are initiated.

Up-grade is a concept for an independent platform where individuals can share their stories and experiences of retrofit installers and schemes helping to improve familiarity with the process. Hearing other people’s experiences of their retrofit – what they had done, their levels of satisfaction, savings and comfort benefits, ranked along a simple star rating scale could improve consumer confidence. Likewise, rating of installers could ensure higher standards and would promote competition.


Rate my Rent

Hot Stars

Crowdsourcing to foster the uptake of retrofitting of the rental stock

Rewarding Best Practice

Along a similar vein of thought, ‘rate my rent’ could help provide an incentive for the rental market to retrofit. Past and current tenants offer their opinions of the property including aspects relating to comfort and energy costs to provide prospective renters this useful information. Landlords that have recently retrofit their property get stars on the site denoting their action on energy efficiency. Those with bad ratings will be encouraged to improve their energy efficiency thus improving their likelihood of gaining tenants.

One solution to the lack of visibility to retrofits would be to provide rewards for best practice. Different reward levels could be awarded to people who save energy in their homes as well as to retrofitters. Awards could be: - Physical objects: a plaque that would be put up on retrofitted house; - Virtual certificates: apps or pictures that individuals would be able to use at home or on their social networks.




Process The survey was designed to increase understanding of the knowledge, drivers and motivations with respect to home energy retrofitting in Ireland. The rationale for a web-based project was to ensure low costs, high levels of uptake and immediate engagement. ‘Hot or Not’ went viral, and 1,733 people had completed the online survey between 1st April and 31st May 2011. The survey consisted of 14 multiple choice questions. To stimulate our target audience, our participants did not just enter a conventional Q&A exercise, but rather a process of discovery as follows: Teaser: fun questions with a purpose: to identify participants' profile & their idea of warmth; Home insulation perceptions: perceptions of current home insulation, willingness to pay for energy efficiency upgrades, and household budget trade-offs; Retrofit grant programmes: awareness of grants, costs and preferred methods of payment; Opinion: the survey closed with an open-ended question asking participants’ main reason for not taking up retrofit grants, and what would encourage them in the future.


Awareness and Willingness Awareness of grants is low but willingness is quite encouraging. Almost half of this target group is not aware of the availability of grants and most of those who are aware have little notion of their characteristics.

Of the 54% who know about grants

Willingness to change is high and the amount of grant assistant seems to be at an adequate level to foster uptake. Before information on grants, only 7% of participants estimated they could afford attic insulation; a figure that jumped to 29% after information on grants.


Preference and Perception Low awareness of most appropriate retrofit measures for the target group’s homes. Participants prioritise spending excess household budget on renewable energy and insulation over decor upgrades. However, they have little understanding of the most suitable retrofit measures for their home. This is prevalent in two domains: confusion over technical terms –including the term retrofitting itself; and lack of understanding of the specifics and benefits of the various elements of insulation and energy. As a result, they should not be treated as discerning technicians but as discerning dwellers, hence the need for a shift in communications.

The invisibility and lack of added social value of retrofitting was often interpreted as a hurdle to the uptake of schemes. This survey emphasises an appetite for statement devices, primarily home renewable energy devices. We can only notice the 94% of respondents who wish they had solar panels. This trend is sometimes referred to as ‘Eco Bling’. Young people want to show off their empathy with environmental issues and their commitment to contributing to a better world. Home renewable energies also have a ‘hi-tech’ feel to them, in tune with current trends.


Finance and Barriers Finance is still a burning issue: preference for save as you pay (PAYS/SAYP) schemes Paying for retrofitting with personal savings is not an option for most in the current climate. Openness to grants is strikingly high, almost at a par with a PAYS-type scheme. As indicated below, finance remains the primary hurdle to residential retrofitting. Other fundamental barriers arose due to the stated lack of awareness on where to access information on retrofitting and the available grants and being a tenant rather than a home-owner.

Primary Barriers relating to the uptake of retrofit:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Finance Lack of Information and Awareness Rented Accommodation Perceived lack of need for upgrade Uncertain financial payback

Analysis of the open-ended question at the end of the questionnaire resulted in the categorisation of a number of primary barriers to the uptake of retrofit (listed above). Cost of retrofitting was the most commonly identified barrier. Many people said they were unclear about what retrofitting was, and did not know where to go to get adequate information.




Conclusion ‘Hot or Not?’ used cool to engage people in the delivery of warmth . By understanding the needs and behaviour patterns of both industry and targeted audience, the ‘Hot or Not’ project has proved that many low-cost opportunities are available to solve current challenges. While this project was specific to the under-35s, the process can be applied to any need and any audience. The future of retrofit is bright! Process:

Identify industry & environmental need Fulfill Industry & environmental need

Identify audience

Fulfill audience need

Engage audience

Analyse audience behaviour


Acknowledgments To the British Council for selecting us as Climate Advocates, in particular Liz McBain, Head of the Challenge Europe programme for all her guidance and support. To the project partners on the Challenge Europe programme for their bright ideas and guidance, in particular: Jim Kitchen, of the former SDCNI, Davie Phillips of Cultivate, Noel Casserly and Mary MacMahon, of the former Comhar. To other advisors from NGOs, energy agencies, energy suppliers and policy institutes who provided information and guidance along the way.

‘Hot or Not?’ arose from the British Council’s ‘Challenge Europe’ programme. This programme selected young professionals across Europe, supporting them to develop a project on climate change issues for their country. The aim of Challenge Europe was to influence policy, behaviour and enterprise to advance action on Climate Change. ‘Hot or Not?’ was developed by one of the Irish teams in the third year of the programme (2010/2011). In developing the initiative, the team liaised with energy authorities, suppliers, NGO’s and others working in the energy sector across Ireland (North & South).


Authors and Contributors Authors and Producers Dr Ruth Doyle is a researcher in Trinity College Dublin. She specialises in processes of ‘visioning’ for the design of long-term sustainability plans and in human-environmenttechnology interactions. She has extensive experience in innovative public engagement & consultation methodologies.

Emmanuelle Marion has been piloting new models for the sustainable economic development of the Cultural and Creative Industries for over 10 years and co-founded d.ploy Dublin in 2010. She set up ecó, Ireland’s first low carbon textile business in 2008. She has experience in innovative public engagement, lateral thinking processes and systems design.

Creative Green is an innovative research and strategic solutions agency specialising in creative, sustainable change. Founded by Emmanuelle Marion and Ruth Doyle, Creative Green use qualitative and futures research processes to develop unique insights and action plans for our clients. We have conducted research for large-scale renewable energy providers in Ireland, developing consultation strategy and energy awareness campaigns. We are passionate about contributing to the creation of a happier, healthier society and environment. See:

Contributors Katrina McGuire Ryan George Michelle McCrystal

Research & Coordination Northern Ireland - Katrina is a Risk Management Officer for Lisburn City Council and a Lecturer at Belfast Metropolitan College.

Phase 1 Research & Survey Development Northern Ireland Phase 1 Research Northern Ireland


Hot or Not?: Motivating Ireland's next Generation of Retrofitters  
Hot or Not?: Motivating Ireland's next Generation of Retrofitters  

This toolkit aims to assist those looking to engage and inspire Ireland’s next generation of retrofitters: the 18 to 35 year-olds. It is bas...