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Blog Post 21 November 2022

Joanna O’Loan, our knowledge manager, talks about our insight and evaluation work

As part of her role within the insight and evaluation team, Joanna O’Loan (pictured left) makes sure we translate our energy efficiency and low carbon research into practical and consistent actionable advice for households.

Here, Joanna talks about her work and Infact, which is our savings and statistics bulletin for businesses. 

What did you do before joining Energy Saving Trust?

I studied engineering and have worked in the environmental sector for seven years. I was previously very much business focused, but with Energy Saving Trust, I work mostly on household advice.

Before working at Energy Saving Trust, my analytical skills were used in my role as commercial manager for Vegware, which is a compostable packaging company. I used to price compostable materials and apply for product certification for export and import.

What do you do in your role at Energy Saving Trust?

I work in our insight and evaluation team. We’re a group of data analysts and energy consultants that supports clients with a range of data services and tools; consultancy and energy modelling; and evaluating carbon reduction programmes and policies.

Much of my time supports Home Energy Scotland (HES), the Scottish Government funded advice service that’s available free to everyone in Scotland. I develop training and support for the team of advisors that delivers impartial advice to households about how to stay warm for less.  

What’s the best bit about your job?

The variety and the impact. My role in the insight and evaluation team means I study from the very macro (earth systems and carbon emissions) to inside the home (heating systems and building physics).

I also get insight into human behaviour, like the public’s energy use and spending habits, and all sorts of psychology. The team needs all this information to really understand the choices available to households, with the aim of supporting people in choosing the right things for them and their situation. I find it all so fascinating.

I also have very knowledgeable colleagues to hand if I have any difficult questions.

What’s the most challenging thing about your role?

The work can be emotionally challenging. We know there are so many people across the UK living in cold homes that are too expensive to keep warm. There are huge wellbeing and health impacts of living in a cold home, particularly for the most vulnerable people in our society. This challenge is also what drives most of our colleagues – along with addressing the climate emergency, of course – to solve these problems.

What is Infact?

The energy insight analysis that is undertaken by my team is collated in Infact, which is our savings and statistics bulletin that businesses can subscribe to. It includes verified facts and figures, policy insights and key information about household energy use alongside low and no-cost energy saving advice.

Businesses can use this information in their own marketing and communications. The information is aimed at encouraging householders to think about their energy use and lifestyle habits, and making energy saving improvements to their homes.

The insight and evaluation team spends the year analysing new evidence and improving energy modelling to produce robust, reliable savings statistics and advice for households. It’s important the advice is relevant and useful to a broad range of people.

It’s great we have something that can so easily integrate into other organisations’ communications to make sure the advice reaches as large an audience as possible.

What are some of the most interesting research topics you’re working on at Energy Saving Trust?

Most fascinating to me is our research in decarbonising heat. The team is looking at how the UK will rise to the challenge of getting fossil fuels out of our energy systems.

I’ve been involved in electric heating and heat pump research. The research looks at how people could decide which system is best for them based on their personal circumstances and seeing what data supports these decisions. 

Do you have any thoughts to share about the energy sector?

The extremely high cost of energy is having a huge impact on us all. There will be many people across the UK forced to make some really difficult decisions for themselves and their families. The cheapest energy will always be the energy you don’t use, so we’re working to support people to reduce their energy use at home through our research and advice. It’s work I’m proud to be a part of.

What’s something people wouldn’t know about you?

I’m Scottish and a proud Highlander, and I’m a superfan of haggis, shinty and highland cows. I really don’t like whisky, despite working as a tour guide for a local distillery for a few summers!

What’s next for you?

I’m sworn to secrecy for most projects I work on, but I can share that I’ll shortly be delivering training to organisations in Scotland through Home Energy Scotland.

Last updated: 21 November 2022