Rural households needed for carbon monoxide research project

The fuel poverty charity National Energy Action are offering households the opportunity to receive £20 shopping vouchers for supporting vital research into carbon monoxide safety. Read on for more information from NEA about the research and how to take part.

This research project is investigating carbon monoxide and gas safety in homes. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas which cannot be seen, smelt or tasted. It can be produced by faulty household appliances burning gas, wood, oil or coal, along with poor ventilation in the home. This research will explore with households their heating and cooking practices to better understand exposure to carbon monoxide in homes. The research will also collect data on temperature and carbon monoxide levels in homes.

This research is led by National Energy Action (NEA), a registered national charity that supports households to stay safe and warm in their homes. NEA is working with Liverpool John Moores University on the project, along with local stakeholders who are helping us to contact householders such as yourself. The research is funded by the Gas Safety Trust.

We are interviewing households who privately rent or own their own home and who use either gas, oil, LPG or solid fuels (e.g. coal and wood) for heating and/or cooking.

If you decide to participate a member of the NEA research team will arrange a time to visit you in your home. During the visit, we will ask you some simple questions about the appliances you use to heat and cook with, how you use those appliances, your fuel costs, along with a little bit about yourself and your property. The interview should last approximately one hour.

When in your home, we will take a carbon monoxide reading as well as fit two small and discreet data loggers to record temperature, humidity and carbon monoxide levels over a period of approximately three months. No other information is collected by these devices. Please note that the data loggers remain the property of NEA. We will give you an information sheet about the loggers and explain them to you before we fit them. Around mid-March 2017 we will contact you by phone and mail and ask you to return the data loggers using a freepost envelope we will provide. To thank you for taking part in the research and returning the loggers we will provide you with a £20 High Street shopping voucher to spend at stores such as Argos and Boots.

It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part in the project. When we arrive for the interview we will explain the research to you and ask you to sign a consent form. You are not required to sign the consent form and we will not start the interview unless you are happy to sign it. During the interview your participation remains voluntary and you are free to withdraw from the research at any time without giving a reason.

WHAT WILL I RECEIVE FOR TAKING PART? At the end of the visit, we will provide you with an ‘Energy and Safety Pack’ that includes a free carbon monoxide alarm, information about how to stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning and information on saving energy and keeping warm. NEA will not be liable for any loss or damage in the event that your property or personal possessions are damaged, lost or affected in any form by the carbon monoxide alarm. You remain responsible for using the carbon monoxide alarm safely and according to product instructions.

Upon return of the two data loggers fitted in your home you will be provided with a £20 thank you voucher to spend at thousands of High Street stores.

Your personal data will be confidential to NEA and no one outside of the NEA research team will be able to connect your personal details, including your contact details, to your data. We will use information and data gathered from you in the project (for example in reports) but only ever in an anonymous format. NEA is registered with the Data Commissioner and all data is held securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

To assist with identification of the heating and cooking systems you have in your home, we may want to use a camera, with your permission, to take photos. For example, a photo of your boiler. The photos will be used for identification purposes only and will not be used in any public reports without obtaining your explicit further consent beforehand. If you would prefer no photos are taken then we will take notes instead. If photos are taken they will be stored securely and at the end of the project will be destroyed in accordance with data protection law.

The results of this research project will form the basis of a report to the Gas Safety Trust about carbon monoxide risk in homes. You will not be personally identified in any report or publication.

If you would like to take part, please contact Andy Stephenson – Research and Policy Officer at NEA on 0191 269 2912, or 07834 178852. Alternatively you can e-mail him at andy.stephenson@nea.org.uk