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Aimee Ambrose

Professor Aimee Ambrose BA (Hons), MSc, PhD

Professor of Energy Policy


Summary

I am a Professor of Energy Policy in CRESR where I have worked for the last thirteen years. Since June 2019 I have also acted as Chief Academic Advisor to the Hard to Reach energy users Annex which is part of the Users Technology Collaboration Programme by the International Energy Agency. I am also currently a visiting researcher at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University in Sweden.

About

My research is primarily concerned with understand the unintended impacts of energy policies, with highlighting injustices associated with decarbonisation efforts and with promoting citizen engagement with our energy futures through participatory research. Through pioneering qualitative research, I have developed methodologies to understand previously under-researched aspects of the lived experiences of energy systems and transitions. This has resulted in a much deeper understanding of the key societal challenges associated with energy transitions and carbon reduction, and how they are experienced by marginalised groups around the world. I have three core areas of expertise:

Understanding and addressing fuel poverty: I am known internationally for my fuel poverty research and have led and published key studies in New Zealand, Australia and Sweden, in addition to leading more than 20 research projects on this topic in the UK. I was amongst the first academics to conduct qualitative research into lived experiences of fuel poverty and the first to co-produce research with hard-to-reach energy users. Thus, I have contributed new knowledge regarding the impact of fuel poverty on the lives of vulnerable households; why tenants don't speak out against cold homes and high heating costs; how to persuade private landlords to invest in energy efficiency; and how energy suppliers can serve vulnerable consumers better. I have worked with governments, intergovernmental organisations and the private sector to feed this knowledge into policy and practice in the UK, Scotland, Wales and New Zealand. I also shape the international fuel poverty research agenda in my role as Chair of the Fuel Poverty Research Network (FPRN), an international research funding and knowledge exchange charity which I founded in 2016.

Developing pioneering qualitative research methodologies: Energy research has traditionally been dominated by quantitative and technical research resulting in partial understanding of how energy policy is experienced by ordinary citizens, leading policy makers responsible for low carbon transitions to inadvertently create and entrench injustices. In response, I have reimagined energy research by introducing pioneering qualitative methods to the field. For example, using visual methods (film making) to study low energy housing via an ESRC funded study that advanced understanding of the 'performance gap' . I have pioneered the use of oral history techniques in the study of energy transitions in the UK, Australia and Sweden, revealing that understanding formative experiences of energy is key to changing energy behaviour.

I have also developed a new methodology called Walking with Energy (WWE) which combines oral histories, walking interviews and embodied research to understand our changing relationship with energy and promote greater citizen engagement with it. WWE was initially funded through the ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership and then the Swedish Energy Agency.

Understanding 'hard to reach' energy users: Through my research in the UK, NZ and Sweden, I have worked creatively to engage with Hard to Reach (HtR) energy users and afford them a voice, revealing new insights into, inter alia, who should be considered hard to reach in an energy context; where existing approaches to engaging HtR groups are failing; and how different HtR groups would prefer to engage with energy initiatives. From 2017, I helped to establish the Technology Collaboration Programme on HtR energy users by the International Energy Agency, being appointed as Chief Academic Advisor to the programme from 2018. Moreover, I brought my expertise on HtR consumers to bear on problems within other sectors. In 2015, I was commissioned by the Consumer Council for Water to develop recommendations to improve water company engagement with HtR water users to increase take up of water affordability initiatives (such as social tariffs). My recommendations transformed practice across the water sector and led to a sustained 50% increase in take up of social tariffs and savings of >£215,000,000 to vulnerable households across England and Wales.

Research interests

  • domestic energy efficiency
  • energy invisibility
  • citizen engagement with energy policy
  • user experiences of environmentally sustainable housing
  • lived experiences of fuel poverty and policy responses
  • non-traditional qualitative research methods
  • district energy and heating
  • energy inefficiency in private rented sector housing.

Research

  • Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research

2022-2025 Looking back to move forward: a social and cultural history of heating (JUSTHEAT), The Collaboration of the Humanities and Social Science in Europe (CHANSE)/ The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Role: Project Director.

2020-2021 Affordability support: a cross sector review. Consumer Council for Water. Role: Project Director.

2020-2021 Understanding and engaging with high consuming households: energy, transport, food. Sheffield Hallam University. Role: Project Director.

2020 Research into the early construction messages emerging from the Innovative Housing Programme. Welsh Government. Role: Project Director.

2019-2021 Walking with energy: using participative research methods to overcome energy invisibility in Sweden and the UK. The Swedish Energy Agency. Project Director.

Key clients

  • Big Lottery Fund
  • Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM)
  • Welsh Assembly Government

Publications

Journal articles

Raslan, R., & Ambrose, A. (2022). Solving the Difficult Problem of Hard to Decarbonise Homes. Nature Energy, 7, 675-677. http://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-022-01075-w

Ambrose, A., Sherriff, G., Baker, W., & Chambers, J. (2021). Cold comfort: Covid-19, lockdown and the coping strategies of fuel poor households. Energy Reports. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.egyr.2021.08.175

Castano Garcia, A., Ambrose, A., Hawkins, A., & Parkes, S. (2021). High consumption, an unsustainable habit that needs more attention. Energy Research and Social Science, 80. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2021.102241

Palm, J., Reindl, K., & Ambrose, A. (2020). Understanding tenants’ responses to energy efficiency renovations in public housing in Sweden: From the resigned to the demanding. Energy Reports, 6, 2619-2626. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.egyr.2020.09.020

Ambrose, A., Baker, W., Batty, E., & MacNair Hawkins, A. (2020). "I have a panic attack when I pick up the phone": experiences of energy advice amongst 'hard to reach' energy users. People Place and Policy Online, 14 (1), 58-64. http://doi.org/10.3351/ppp.2019.3479427335

Baker, W., Ambrose, A., Brierley, J., Butler, D., Marchand, R., & Sherriff, G. (2020). Stuck at home in a cold home: the implications of Covid-19 for the fuel poor. People, place and policy online, 1-4. http://doi.org/10.3351/ppp.2020.3447683949

Ambrose, A. (2020). Walking with Energy: challenging energy invisibility and connecting citizens with energy futures through participatory research. Futures, 117, 102528. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2020.102528

Sherriff, G., Moore, T., Berry, S., Ambrose, A., Goodchild, B., & Maye-Banbury, A. (2019). Coping with extremes, creating comfort: user experiences of ‘low-energy’ homes in Australia. Energy Research and Social Science, 51, 44-54. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2018.12.008

Goodchild, B., Ambrose, A., Berry, S., Maye-Banbury, A., Moore, T., & Sherriff, G. (2019). Modernity, Materiality and Domestic Technology: A Case Study of Cooling and Heating from South Australia. Housing, Theory and Society, 1-21. http://doi.org/10.1080/14036096.2019.1600577

Ambrose, A., & Mccarthy, L. (2019). Taming the 'masculine pioneers'? Changing attitudes towards energy efficiency amongst private landlords and tenants in New Zealand: A case study of Dunedin. Energy Policy, 126, 165-176. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2018.11.018

Ambrose, A., & Marchland, R. (2017). The contemporary landscape of fuel poverty research. Indoor and Built Environment, 26 (7), 875-878. http://doi.org/10.1177/1420326X17724914

Ambrose, A., Goodchild, B., & O'Flaherty, F. (2017). Understanding the user in low energy housing: a comparison of positivist and phenomenological approaches. Energy Research & Social Science, 34, 163-171. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2017.06.035

Goodchild, B., Ambrose, A., & Maye-Banbury, A. (2017). Storytelling as oral history: revealing the changing experience of home heating in England. Energy Research & Social Science, 31, 137-144. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2017.06.009

Ambrose, A., Eadson, W., & Pinder, J. (2016). Erratum: Corrigendum to “The role of actor-networks in the early stage mobilisation of low carbon heat networks” (Energy Policy (2016) 96 (144–152) (S0301421516302725) (10.1016/j.enpol.2016.05.042)). Energy Policy, 99, 110. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2016.09.052

Ambrose, A., Eadson, W., & Pinder, J. (2016). The role of actor-networks in the early stage mobilisation of low carbon heat networks. Energy Policy, 96, 144-152. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2016.05.042

Ambrose, A., Eadson, W., & Gilbertson, J. (2016). Editorial: PPP special issue – International Perspectives on Fuel Poverty. People, Place and Policy, 10 (1), 1-4. http://doi.org/10.3351/ppp.0010.0001.0001

Ambrose, A. (2015). Improving energy efficiency in private rented housing : what makes landlords act? Indoor and Built Environment, 24 (7), 913-924. http://doi.org/10.1177/1420326X15598821

Goodchild, B., O'Flaherty, F., & Ambrose, A. (2014). Inside the eco-home: using video to understand the implications of innovative housing. Housing, Theory and Society, 31 (3), 334-352. http://doi.org/10.1080/14036096.2014.903855

Robinson, D., & Walshaw, A. (2014). Security of tenure in social housing in England. Social Policy and Society, 13 (01), 1-12. http://doi.org/10.1017/S1474746413000183

Ambrose, A. (2013). User and organisational responses to biomass district heating. Proceedings of the ICE - Urban Design and Planning, 167 (1), 35-41. http://doi.org/10.1680/udap.12.00023

Walsham, A. (2012). Briefing : Understanding the impact of housing modernisation from the bottom up. Journal of Urban Design and Planning, 165 (1), 7-10. http://doi.org/10.1680/udap.2012.165.1.7

Goodchild, B., & Walshaw, A. (2011). Towards zero carbon homes in England? From inception to partial implementation. Housing Studies, 26 (6), 933-949. http://doi.org/10.1080/02673037.2011.593132

Walshaw, A. (2011). From house to home : residents’ perceptions of housing modernisation. Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, 4 (3), 269-278. http://henrystewart.metapress.com/app/home/issue.asp?referrer=parent&backto=journal,6,20;linkingpublicationresults,1:120775,1

Conference papers

Ashby, K., Rotmann, S., Smith, J., Mundaca, L., Ambrose, A., Borelli, S., & Talwar, M. (2020). Who are Hard-to-Reach energy users? Segments, barriers and approaches to engage them. Proceedings ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. http://doi.org/10.47568/3false103

Ambrose, A. (2019). Walking with energy: Increasing energy visibility through research participation. Eceee Summer Study Proceedings, 2019-J, 83-92. https://www.eceee.org/library/conference_proceedings/eceee_Summer_Studies/2019/1-the-dynamics-of-limiting-energy-consumption/walking-with-energy-increasing-energy-visibility-through-research-participation/

Reports

Ambrose, A., Castano Garcia, A., Hawkins, A., Parkes, S., Rafalowicz-Campbell, M., & Smith, M. (2022). It’s high time to talk about the climate impacts of high consumers. Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/its-high-time-to-talk-about-the-climate-impacts-of-high-consumers

Ambrose, A., Parkes, S., Eadson, W., Bull, R., Thidell, Å., Kojonsaari, A.-.R., ... Smith, M. (2021). Walking with energy: overcoming energy invisibility through research participation. Energimyndigheten. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/walking-with-energy-overcoming-energy-invisibility-through-research-participation

Ambrose, A., Gilbertson, J., Speake, B., Bimpson, E., Mccarthy, L., & Ramsden, S. (2021). Cross-sector review of affordability support: an evidence review for the Consumer Council for Water. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. http://doi.org/10.7190/cresr.2021.6894611266

Ambrose, A., Archer, T., & Bimpson, E. (2020). Research to identify early lessons emerging from the Innovative Housing Programme. Welsh Government. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/research-to-identify-early-lessons-emerging-from-the-innovative-housing-programme

Ambrose, A., Archer, T., & Bimpson, E. (2020). Research to identify early lessons emerging from the Innovative Housing Programme: Summary. Welsh Government. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/research-to-identify-early-lessons-emerging-from-the-innovative-housing-programme-summary

Ashby, K., Smith, J., Rotmann, S., Mundaca, L., & Ambrose, A. (2020). HTR characterisation: hard-to-reach energy users annex. Hard-to-Reach Energy Users. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/htr-characterisation-hard-to-reach-energy-users-annex

Ambrose, A., Baker, W., Batty, E., & Hawkins, A. (2019). Reaching the 'Hardest to Reach' with energy advice: final report - Executive Summary. Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/reaching-the-hardest-to-reach-with-energy-advice-final-report---executive-summary

Ambrose, A., Baker, W., Batty, E., & Hawkins, A. (2019). Reaching the 'Hardest to Reach' with energy advice: final report. Sheffield Hallam University. http://doi.org/10.7190/cresr.2019.8286642862

Ambrose, A., Bashir, N., Foden, M., Gilbertson, J., Green, G., & Stafford, B. (2018). Better housing, better health in London Lambeth : the Lambeth Housing standard health impact assessment and cost benefit analysis. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/better-housing-better-health-in-london-lambeth

Ambrose, A., Mccarthy, L., & Pinder, J. (2017). Energy (in) efficiency: what tenants expect and endure in private rented housing - Research Summary. Kendal: Eaga. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/energy-in-efficiency-what-tenants-expect-and-endure-in-private-rented-housing---research-summary

Ambrose, A., Mccarthy, L., & Pinder, J. (2016). Energy (in)efficiency: what tenants expect and endure in private rented housing. A final report to the Eaga Charitable Trust. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/energy-in-efficiency-what-tenants-expect-and-endure-in-private-rented-housing

Ambrose, A., Damm, C., Foden, M., Gilbertson, J., & Pinder, J. (2016). Delivering Affordability Assistance to water customers: cross sector lessons. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/delivering-affordability-assistance-to-water-customers-cross-sector-lessons

Mccarthy, L., Ambrose, A., & Pinder, J. (2016). Energy (In)Efficiency: Exploring what tenants expect and endure in the private rented sector in England. Making the case for more research into the tenant's perspective. An evidence review. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/energy-inefficiency-exploring-what-tenants-expect-and-endure-in-the-private-rented-sector-in-england

Ambrose, A., Batty, E., Eadson, W., Hickman, P., & Quinn, G. (2016). Assessment of the need for furniture provision for new NIHE tenants. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/assessment-of-the-need-for-furniture-provision-for-new-nihe-tenants

Ambrose, A., Eadson, W., Hickman, P., & Mccarthy, L. (2015). Tenancy sustainment amongst those aged under 35 : final report. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/tenancy-sustainment-amongst-those-aged-under-35-final-report

Ambrose, A., Eadson, W., Hickman, P., & Mccarthy, L. (2015). Tenancy sustainment amongst those aged under 35: executive summary. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/tenancy-sustainment-amongst-those-aged-under-35-executive-summary

Hickman, P., Dayson, C., Ambrose, A., Batty, E., Bennett, E., Flint, J., ... Muir, J. (2015). Summary of key findings. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/summary-of-key-findings

Dayson, C., Hickman, P., Ambrose, A., Batty, E., Bennett, E., & Muir, J. (2015). Understanding the economic contribution of the social economy at a neighbourhood level: Final Report. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/understanding-the-economic-contribution-of-the-social-economy-at-a-neighbourhood-level-final-report

Ambrose, A., Eadson, W., Pinder, J., Gilbertson, J., & O'Flaherty, F. (2015). Low Carbon Pioneer Cities Heat Networks Project: a process evaluation. Department of Energy and Climate Change. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/low-carbon-pioneer-cities-heat-networks-project-a-process-evaluation

Hickman, P., Batty, E., Dayson, C., Flint, J., Foden, M., Muir, J., ... Green, S. (2015). 'Getting By', Coping and Resilience in Difficult Times: Final Report. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/getting-by-coping-and-resilience-in-difficult-times-final-report

Ambrose, A., Eadson, W., & Pinder, J. (2015). Evaluation of the Big Energy Savings Network: Final report. London: Department of Energy and Climate Change. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/evaluation-of-the-big-energy-saving-network

Eadson, W., Robinson, D., Reeve, K., Platts-Fowler, D., Green, S., Walshaw, A., ... Pearce, S. (2013). An Evaluation of Getting on Together: The Community Cohesion Strategy for Wales. Welsh Government. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/an-evaluation-of-getting-on-together-the-community-cohesion-strategy-for-wales

Eadson, W., Gilbertson, J., & Walshaw, A. (2013). Attitudes and Perceptions of the Green Deal amongst private sector landlords in Rotherham: Summary. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/attitudes-and-perceptions-of-the-green-deal-amongst-private-sector-landlords-in-rotherham-summary

Eadson, W., Gilbertson, J., & Walshaw, A. (2013). Attitudes and Perceptions of the Green Deal amongst private sector landlords in Rotherham. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/attitudes-and-perceptions-of-the-green-deal-amongst-private-sector-landlords-in-rotherham

Dayson, C., Gilbertson, J., Morgan, G., & Walshaw, A. (2012). EDF Energy Trust Research Project. Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/edf-energy-trust-research-project

Wells, P., Hickman, P., Dayson, C., Walshaw, A., Batty, E., Gore, T., ... O'Toole, C. (2012). Village SOS Project Evaluation. Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/village-sos-project-evaluation

Eadson, W., Platts-Fowler, D., Robinson, D., & Walshaw, A. (2011). Community mapping and tension monitoring. Welsh Government. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/community-mapping-and-tension-monitoring

Robinson, D., & Ambrose, A. (2011). New Migration, Neighbourhood Effects and Community Change. Connected Communities. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/new-migration-neighbourhood-effects-and-community-change

Dayson, C., Wells, P., Eadson, W., Gilbertson, J., Pearson, S., Walshaw, A., ... Trinnaman, J. (2011). Sustaining the benefits of capital funding: Final report. Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/sustaining-the-benefits-of-capital-funding-final-report

Hickman, P., Walshaw, A., Gore, A., Ferrari, E., & Wilson, I. (2011). “The Houses all Look Posh Now” - Evaluating the Impact of a Housing Improvement Programme: the Case of Portobello and Belle Vue - Key Findings and Policy Messages. Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/the-houses-all-look-posh-now---key-findings-and-policy-messages

Hickman, P., Walshaw, A., Gore, T., Ferrari, E., & Wilson, I. (2011). “The Houses all Look Posh Now” - Evaluating the Impact of a Housing Improvement Programme: The Case of Portobello and Belle Vue. Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/the-houses-all-look-posh-now---evaluating-the-impact-of-a-housing-improvement-programme

Robinson, D., Walshaw, A., Uwimana, M., Bahati, B., Reeve, K., & Bashir, N. (2010). Evaluation of the Trans-national Resettlement Project: UK and Ireland. Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/evaluation-of-the-trans-national-resettlement-project-uk-and-ireland

Wells, P., Coule, T., Dayson, C., Morgan, G., Ambrose, A., Batty, E., ... Patmore, B. (2010). Futurebuilders Evaluation: Final Report. Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/futurebuilders-evaluation-final-report

Wells, P., Coule, T., Dayson, C., Morgan, G., Ambrose, A., Batty, E., ... Patmore, B. (2010). Futurebuilders Evaluation: Final Report Executive Summary. Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University. https://www.shu.ac.uk/centre-regional-economic-social-research/publications/futurebuilders-evaluation-final-report-executive-summary

McCarthy, L., Ambrose, A., & Pinder, J. (n.d.). Energy (In)Efficiency: Exploring what tenants expect and endure in the private rented sector in England. Sheffield Hallam University. http://doi.org/10.7190/cresr.2020.8936189508

Theses / Dissertations

Ambrose, A. (n.d.). Using qualitative methods to understand non-technological aspects of domestic energy efficiency. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Hickman, P., Goodchild, B., & Macaskill, A.

Media

Aimee is a researcher in Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR). She is a qualified town planner and previously practised within local government, where she gained significant experience of major housing redevelopment schemes.

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