EVALUATE’s qualitative fieldwork has progressed very well over the last two months. In Budapest much of this work has been conducted by Dr Gerda Jónász. I was able to visit Budapest for a week in February and join Gerda on several interviews, undertaking some myself with those who were comfortable speaking English. Although at this early stage it is only possible to provide very preliminary findings, it was clear that several of the participants were experiencing difficulties in affording their energy bills (in line with EVALUATE’s earlier quantitative findings from Hungary) and were thus forced to limit their consumption. For example, one household was restricted to using their electric heating system only at times when the children were home, and had to visit family members at the weekend to use hot water for a shower.
A lack of home insulation, inflexible district heating systems, and even the physical positioning of windows (one flat with north-facing windows couldn’t gain much passive heat from the sunlight, and so was often cold and needed more heating) all variously featured as reasons for people’s difficulties. Gerda has been making great progress despite working mostly alone, and our realistic aim is to have the fieldwork conducted by the end of April.
Meanwhile, fieldwork in Skopje has also been progressing well. Nevena Smilevska, of the Centre for Environmental Information and Research, has been assisted by Stefan Maleski in undertaking the research here. Saska Petrova from the EVALUATE team in Manchester was also able to join on a few of the household interviews. Like Gerda in Budapest, Nevena and Stefan have also worked very hard and efficiently, and they aim to have all the fieldwork completed by mid-April.
In Gdansk, the qualitative fieldwork has now finished and our local researcher Jan Frankowski is busy completing the interview transcriptions. And in Prague, Saska Petrova is now in the middle of undertaking several weeks of in-depth fieldwork.
The overall impression from across the different case study cities has been that the data collection – and the method of using two in-depth interviews interposed with a personal ‘energy diary’ – has gone very well. The energy diary has proven very effective in helping participants to reflect on the everyday practices that they might usually take for granted, allowing detailed discussions to take place in the second interview.
As we begin to receive the transcripts from the various interviews, my next task will be to conduct an in-depth and rigorous analysis in order to identify key themes and findings.