Towards explaining the health impacts of residential energy efficiency interventions - A realist review. Part 1: Pathways

Willand, N, Ridley, I and Maller, C 2015, 'Towards explaining the health impacts of residential energy efficiency interventions - A realist review. Part 1: Pathways', Social Science and Medicine, vol. 133, pp. 191-201.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Towards explaining the health impacts of residential energy efficiency interventions - A realist review. Part 1: Pathways
Author(s) Willand, N
Ridley, I
Maller, C
Year 2015
Journal name Social Science and Medicine
Volume number 133
Start page 191
End page 201
Total pages 11
Publisher Elsevier Ltd
Abstract This paper is Part 1 of a realist review that tries to explain the impacts of residential energy efficiency interventions (REEIs) on householder health. According to recent systematic reviews residential energy efficiency interventions may benefit health. It is argued that home energy improvement are complex interventions and that a better understanding of the latent mechanisms and contextual issues that may shape the outcome of interventions is needed for effective intervention design. This realist review synthesises the results of 28 energy efficiency improvement programmes. This first part provides a review of the explanatory factors of the three key pathways, namely warmth in the home, affordability of fuel and psycho-social factors, and the pitfall of inadequate indoor air quality. The review revealed that REEIs improved winter warmth and lowered relative humidity with benefits for cardiovascular and respiratory health. In addition, residential energy efficiency improvements consolidated the meaning of the home as a safe haven, strengthened the householder's perceived autonomy and enhanced social status. Although satisfaction with the home proved to be an important explanation for positive mental health outcomes, financial considerations seemed to have played a secondary role. Evidence for negative impacts was rare but the risk should not be dismissed. Comprehensive refurbishments were not necessarily more effective than thermal retrofits or upgrades. A common protocol for the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of interventions would facilitate the synthesis of future studies. Householder and contextual influences are addressed in Part 2.
Subject Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Energy efficiency
Evidence
Health
Heating
Housing
Realist review
Wellbeing
DOI - identifier 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.02.005
Copyright notice © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN 0277-9536
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