Enhancing the Transition to Energy Citizenship

Slow progress on energy efficiency is undermining efforts to achieve SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) targets. Energy efficiency improvements, such as insulation and retrofits, help reduce energy expenditure and increase the affordability of energy in poorer households. While the Irish government has introduced measures to promote domestic energy efficiency to support lower income households, many of these measures require additional capital investment by households. Even where additional capital investment is not needed, there is limited uptake among lower income households due to lack of accessible information, ineligibility, or competing priorities. Evidence suggests that household-level face-to-face advice and support on improving energy efficiencies for low income households is needed and charities can operate effectively in this space. 

Aims and Objectives

In this project researchers from UCC will work with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) to explore the barriers and enablers to greater energy efficiency in the home, and provide a set of practical guidelines and case studies to promote greater efficiency. The research will thereby help to progress SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and provide financial savings to low-income households.

The project sets out to:

  • critically review national policy on energy efficiency in the home;
  • explore MABS’ service users’ attitudes and practices in relation to household energy efficiency, and identify the barriers to increasing household energy efficiencies;
  • identify the measures and supports needed to overcome these barriers;
  • develop guides, infographics and good practice peer group case studies that will enable MABS to support their service users in improving household energy efficiency;
  • provide policy insights to support MABS in making submissions to government on improving the accessibility of energy efficiency initiatives to low income households.
Project Outputs

Harris, G., McCarthy, O. and Petrie, I. (2022) 'ENERGISE', Seminar hosted by North Dublin MABS to share the findings & recommendations of the ENERGISE project, 16 February 2022. A recording of the seminar is available here 

McCarthy, O. and Harris, G. (2022) 'ENERGISE: Enhancing the Transition to Energy Citizenship', ISS21 seminar, 27 January 2022. Click on the links to access the ENERGISE seminar slides and presentation recording.

McCarthy, O., Harris, G. and Amato, A. (2021) ENERGISE: Enhancing the transition to energy citizenship: Connecting householdsMABS Policy Briefing Paper, December 2021.

McCarthy, O. and Amato, A. (2021) 'Why retrofitting homes will be difficult for low income households', RTE Brainstorm, 8 November 2021. 

Information leaflets:

Improving the energy efficiency of your home: Kate's story

Improving the energy efficiency of your home: Tom's story


In addition to the outputs listed above, the project findings and recommendations have been reported in the press and online, as follows:

Project Funding and Duration

This project has been funded through the IRC New Foundations programme from 2021-2022.


Dr Olive McCarthy (PI) Centre for Co-operative Studies, Cork University Business School at o.mccarthy@ucc.ie  





Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

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