Raúl Castaño-Rosa, a PhD researcher from the University of Seville (Spain) recently spent three months as a visiting researcher at the Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU) at the University of Salford (United Kingdom). His reflections are presented here.
As a final element of my PhD, I carried out a three month stay from January until April 2018 at SHUSU, funded by Eaga Charitable Trust and the ENGAGER Cost Project. During my stay I was supervised by Dr. Graeme Sherriff (SHUSU) and co-supervised by Dr. Harriet Thomson (University of Birmingham).
Effectively targeting energy poverty (EP) requires a good understanding of levels of vulnerability and how they are constituted by poor quality housing and economic circumstances, as well an appreciation of what measures are most appropriate in different settings. My research to date has been developed within the Spanish context and takes into consideration the current situation of this issue in Spain, where no official definition has been established. This contrasts to other countries such as United Kingdom, Ireland, France, and Slovakia. The analysis of the EP context at a national and international level, during my three years of study, has allowed me to define the Index of Vulnerable Homes (IVH).
Given its history in addressing EP, the UK may be considered as a reference country in combatting energy poverty, mainly due to the existence of well-established policies and research groups. As a result, my stay at the University of Salford has helped me to broaden this research focus beyond my current discipline. During the visit, the IVH was adapted to the British context and applied to a case study in the city of Salford, a city in the northwest of England. Furthermore, a comparative analysis with current EP indicators, the 10% measure and the Low Income High Cost (LIHC) indicator, has been provided. The result is a new methodology that assesses the level of household vulnerability, regardless of whether or not it is currently experiencing fuel poverty and their relationship to the quality of life of tenants. Three dimensions are used: monetary cost, energy and thermal comfort. The proposed index could enable the British Government, as well as other countries and governments, to improve citizens’ quality of life, if applied together with cost-effective policies.
For more information about Raul’s research, see his most recent publication:
Castaño-Rosa, J. Solís-Guzmán, M. Marrero, A novel Index of Vulnerable Homes: Findings from application in Spain, Indoor Built Environment. (2018). doi:10.1177/1420326X18764783.
Or follow him on twitter: @rcr90