Academic summary



The Being Warm Being Happy (BWBH) project is a mixed methods study of fuel poverty (FP) experienced by adults with a learning disability (AWLD) in England.
It will:

  • Build on the existing evidence base of the negative effects of fuel poverty and cold homes, on physical and mental health and wellbeing, by focusing on AWLD.
  • Generate an understanding of why AWLD may be at risk of FP, and what intrinsic and extrinsic factors contribute to this risk.
  • Identify how FP and affordable warmth /energy efficiency experience and risk connects to wider issues.
  • Generate recommendations and messages to inform policy and practice.

Why are we conducting the BWBH study?

For the UK population as a whole there is a large body of evidence on the extent of fuel poverty, sometimes identified as part of a wider phenomenon of “energy vulnerability” or “energy poverty”.  A principal motivation of researchers in this field is an even larger body of evidence demonstrating that living in a cold home is associated with premature death and a wide range of mental and physical illnesses. But there is very little evidence of the nature and extent of fuel poverty in the disabled population, and virtually none at all for people with a learning disability. This is despite the fact that the learning disabled are at a greater risk of material deprivation than the non-learning disabled population, and thus more likely to find it especially difficult to avoid living in a cold home. No research to date have examined the FP experience and influences for AWLD. This project aims to conduct a robust and rigorous mixed method study to address that gap.


To understand and characterize fuel poverty and energy vulnerability from the perspective of AWLD.


1. Understand the experience and risks of fuel poverty from the perspective of AWLD.
2. Compare the rates of FP in households in which AWLD reside relative to households in  which adults with other forms of disability reside and the general adult population.
3. Identify the implications for policy and practice using methods of co-production.


This study will generate unique findings on the experience and prevalence of fuel poverty for AWLD in England, of use in itself to a range of stakeholders (policy, practice and householder).

It will also form the basis for prioritizing and conducting future research into households with learning disability, other disabilities and long term conditions.