Is the winter fuel payment counter-productive to energy policy?

This project investigated whether the Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) is in harmony or discord with energy policy goals.

Previous work funded by the Nuffield Foundation has shown that the labelling of income support measures affects how older households spend them. Households spend a much higher percentage of the WFP on heating and electricity than other transfers that do not have the word “fuel” in the title. This begged the question: If the labelling of the WFP encourages households to spend the transfer on energy, are they then less likely to install energy efficiency measures and/or renewable technologies?

The researchers compared households which were only recently eligible for the WFP with those that had just missed eligibility, accounting for variation in characteristics such as employment status and income and found that there was a clear negative shift in the probability of installing  renewable solar or wind technologies.  They conclude that changing the name of the WFP would make recipient households more likely to invest in renewable energy technologies while still achieving the health goals of the current WFP policy.

Project details



Dr Ian Lange, Division of Economics, University of Stirling

Funding Programme:

Open Door

Grant amount and start date:


01 February 2013



Free Symposium: Behavioural Science and Household Energy Choices - University of Stirling, 4th December 2013.  lease click here for further details

Lange I., Moro M. and Rahman M. (2014) Policy labels and investment decision-making

Winter Fuel Payments Policy Brief (2014)