Positive affirmation by government of commitment to reduce energy consumption of buildings not yet matched by consumer action
As COP 27 comes to an end, The Building Societies Association welcomes the Chancellor’s positive reaffirmation in the Autumn Statement of the government’s commitment to improving the energy efficiency of buildings and the reduction of energy consumption.
Despite the huge impact soaring energy prices are having on households, and some encouraging signs of improving consumer awareness, new research shows that almost half (45%) of homeowners have not considered making any energy efficiency improvements to their home over the past 12 months. This figure is however a substantial improvement on September 2021, when it stood at 59%.
The survey highlighted a big difference in some of the more costly areas between the improvements people have considered making to their property, and the changes actually made. For example:
- 17% have considered the installation of solar panels, but 3% have actually installed them in the last 12 months
- 7% have considered other renewable energy sources, such as heat pumps, but less than 2% have installed them
However, half of respondents (50%) have made some energy efficiency improvements to their property in the last 12 months
- 29% have replaced lighting with low energy options, such as LED bulbs
- 14% have changed windows or doors
- 13% have improved insulation
Barriers and Incentives
When asked what the biggest barriers would be to them making energy efficiency improvements to their home, most homeowners said that meeting the upfront costs would be a barrier, with 52% citing this. Almost half (47%) felt it would take too long to recover the costs and over a third (36%) were unsure how much money they would save on their energy bills. A lack of affordable finance, such as grants or loans, would be a barrier to 29% of homeowners for making improvements.
These findings emphasise the positive impact that government can have by providing the detail behind the additional £6 billion committed to reducing energy consumption in the Autumn Statement. Consumers may understandably wait until they have clarity on any grants and subsidised loans that government will make available before they act.
Buying an energy efficient home
When asked about incentives that would encourage the purchase of an energy efficient home, the most popular choice was a cheaper energy tariff, selected by 57% of all respondents. Other incentives include a cheaper mortgage, cited by 40% and evidence that the improvements would add value to their home, cited by 35%
A majority of Brits think that energy improvements would increase the selling price of a property in the UK, with the greatest value being added through:
- 68% - replacing windows and doors
- 66% - upgrading the central heating system
- 64% - installing solar panels
- 63% - improving insulation
Commenting, Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage and Housing Policy at the BSA said:
“There is clearly a great deal more to do if the energy efficiency of our buildings is to be improved sufficiently to meet the government’s 2030 ambition. Positive progress is being made and a number of innovative ideas and approaches are already starting to be tested. It is certain that there will never be a one size fits all solution, although a fabric first approach seems sensible.
“Looking ahead, it is essential that consumers have the information that they need to plan the best approach for their home and confidence in what it will deliver. Lenders must not be incentivised to lend only on the most energy efficient homes. It is lending on the most energy leaky homes that will deliver the greatest savings in energy consumption and carbon emissions. New-build homes should by definition be energy efficient and government should provide clarity as soon as possible on what they will and won’t do to support consumers who will be trying to bridge the gap between up-front costs and the payback period in these challenging times.”