We undertake high quality research to understand and promote sustainable energy choices in Ireland

Encouraging uptake of home energy efficiency upgrades

To meet Ireland’s ambitious Climate Action Plan targets, many homeowners will need to invest in the energy efficiency of their home. 

Past SEAI research identified a number of behavioural barriers that might prevent a homeowner from upgrading their home, including the potential hassle involved. Many of these barriers have been addressed through new policies and programmes, such as the One Stop Shop scheme launched earlier this year. However, we are looking at what barriers remain and where new opportunities might lie in order to further increase uptake of home energy upgrades. In early 2023, we published an up-to-date evidence review to identify new context-relevant behavioural solutions.

We have also been working with SEAI's marketing and communications team on a field trial to assess the impact of targeted area-based awareness campaigns, building on previous trials of community-based approaches. The trial will be evaluated in summer 2024.

Maximising carbon emissions savings through heat pump adoption

 A key component of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan is the decarbonisation of residential heating through the deployment of 400,000 heat pumps in existing homes by 2030. To meet these targets, a step change will be required in the annual number of heat pump installations. 

An evidence review we conducted in 2020 identified a number of behavioural barriers and motivators relevant to achieving carbon emissions savings through heat pump installation. One issue identified was the potential difficulties consumers might face in operating their heat pumps, which could lead to a loss in energy efficiency. Through a subsequent survey and online experiment we discovered that consumers do indeed find it difficult to operate heat pump controls, but that giving them simplified instructions and tips can help.

In 2022, we conducted interviews with installers and a homeowner survey to better understand the barriers, motivators and willingness-to-pay for heat pump installation in specific types of homes that might benefit most from the switch (e.g., homes currently heated using oil), with a view to designing an intervention to promote adoption in those homes. Results will be published soon.

Informing energy crisis communications

The energy crisis has increased the urgency for people to reduce their energy consumption and bills. However, many people don’t understand what actions save the most energy, and even for those that do, there can be a significant gap between their intentions and their actual behaviour.

To help inform communications around the crisis, we conducted a rapid literature review and produced recommendations for designing communication strategies that maximise the chance of real behaviour change. We also ran an online experiment to pre-test the effectiveness of different types of motivational messaging for fostering energy saving intentions.

Last winter we launched the Behavioural Energy and Travel Tracker (BETT), a monthly nationally representative survey to better understand how people in Ireland are using energy in their everyday lives. A report containing results from December 2022 to April 2023 will be published soon.

Encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles

Ireland's Climate Action Plan includes a target to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on Irish roads to almost 1 million by 2030, which will require a significant acceleration in their adoption.  

An evidence review we conducted in 2020 identified a number of behavioural barriers and motivators relevant to EV adoption. Findings relating to the influential role played by car dealerships prompted SEAI’s EV team to conduct a mystery shopping study to capture the consumer experience of buying an EV and to launch the Electric Vehicle Dealership of the Year Award to incentivise dealers to promote EVs to customers. 


Learn more by reading publications in our Behavioural Insights for Policy series.

Behavioural Insights for Policy

Contact us

If you are interested in finding out more about what we do and potential collaborations, please get in contact by emailing beu@seai.ie