In the UK, housing has been identified as a major sector for contributing to the 80% reduction in carbon emissions over the 1990 baseline by 2050, required by the Climate Change Act 2008. However, pre-1919 housing stock is the least energy efficient and consequently poses challenges to meeting this target. Using a mixed methods approach, the current study demonstrates that, in actuality, there is a significant potential for reducing emissions among this sub-sector of housing, and that the major barriers to energy efficiency retrofits concern a lack of funding, the payback period for the investment, disruption to home life and finding a trustworthy and skilled installer. Moreover, this study finds that homeowners are motivated primarily by the desire to improve home comfort and aesthetics along with a reduction in energy bills rather than in reducing carbon emissions. The paper concludes with recommendations for improving the viability of retrofitting pre-1919 homes through enhanced financial resources, policy support and the promotion of social and economic benefits. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier B.V.