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Publications / Briefings and explainers

Energy Efficiency Week 2024 polling report

Despite high energy costs, more than two-thirds of people did nothing to improve their home’s energy efficiency in 2023 

As part of Energy Efficiency Week, Energy UK and One Home worked with Public First to poll people about what improvements they made to their homes in 2023 and what put people off making their homes more energy efficient. The research shows that there are particular areas of focus for improving energy efficiency, including improving access to financing and information, and supporting particular types of households, especially tenants in the private rented sector. 

People were given a range of options as to why they did not make energy efficiency improvements, and concerns over cost were the most common with over a third of people who did not make energy efficiency improvements citing it as a concern.  

Figure 1: Why people didn’t improve their home’s energy efficiency, 2023 

Bar chart showing why people didnt improve their homes energy effiency 2023

Source: Public First polling for Energy UK and One Home

The polling suggests there are a few areas that require particular attention if the UK is to improve its energy efficiency installation rates:

  • Financing: over a third (35%) of people who didn’t install energy efficiency measures said it was because they couldn’t afford the upfront costs and one in ten (11%) said it wasn’t worth the upfront investment. This is despite the fact that – depending on the measure – energy efficiency can save hundreds of pounds and pay for itself in just a few years. A combination of greater funding from the existing schemes such as the Great British Insulation Scheme, improving access toforms of low-cost private financing, and expanding VAT relief to a broader set of energy-saving technologies and materials will make it easier for people to afford improvements to their homes which will save them money in the long run.
  • Information: more than a quarter of people (28%) said their home did not need energy efficiency improvements, but with only 3% of homes in England and Wales with an EPC rating of B or better[1], there is a clear mismatch between people’s understanding of their homes and the reality. This can also be seen in the 10% of people who did not install energy efficiency because they did not know enough about the options available. The Government, councils, energy suppliers, and the third sector all have a role to play in helping households better understand energy efficiency.
  • Bottlenecks: some people reported issues around the ‘hassle’ of installing energy efficiency measures (8%) and finding the tradespeople to do the work (5%). Although these issues only stop a small proportion of people from making improvements, they are barriers that can be removed at fairly low cost. For example, introducing a measure for a green home stamp duty exemption would encourage homeowners to improve their homes around the time they move, when they are more likely to be renovating in the first place, avoiding additional disruption. 

Figure 2: Proportion of people who made home energy improvements in 2023 by nation/region

Map showing proportion of people who made home energy improvements in 2023 by nation region

Source: Public First polling for Energy UK and One Home
Note: Northern Ireland omitted due to small sample size

People’s homes and lives are all different, and we need to explore those differences to properly understand the challenges facing home energy efficiency improvements. These are some of the key factors highlighted by the polling:

Region

  • Despite having among the most energy-efficient homes in the country[2], Londoners were most likely to install energy efficiency measures (39%), with those in the East of England (23%) the least likely.

Age

  • People over 65 were slightly less likely than average to make their home more energy efficient (28%), with the over 65s being most likely to claim they did not make energy efficiency improvements because their home did not need it (48%).
  • Age groups under the age of 44 are overall more likely to rent their home, so it is not surprising to see the second most common reason for these respondents not making improvements was that they couldn’t make significant changes to their rental property, with those between 25 and 34 years of age mostly likely to say that (38%).

Renters

  • Private (29%) and council tenants (26%) were less likely to have made energy efficiency improvements in 2023 than owner-occupiers (32%) with 70% of private renters who did not make improvements saying that they did not do so because they could not make significant changes to their rented home. With almost one in four private renters living in fuel poverty compared to 9% of owner-occupiers,[3] the challenges renters have in improving their homes highlight the importance of developing minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rental sector.

Finances

  • Unsurprisingly, there is a strong link between people’s finances and how they approach energy efficiency. 26% of the most financially precarious situations[4] did not improve their homes, with 50% of those who did not citing costs as a concern. 37% of households describing themselves as “very comfortable” made improvements, with only 14% being concerned about the cost.

Figure 3: Improvements made to home energy efficiency and concerns with upfront cost by self-described financial comfort

Chart showing improvements made to home energy efficiency and concerns with upfront cost by sellf described financial comfort

Source: Public First polling for Energy UK and One Home
Note: the least financially comfortable group “cannot afford costs” omitted due to small sample size

All this shows that a variety of approaches will be needed to encourage energy efficiency, and that action is urgently required. Energy efficiency is vital to reducing energy bills, achieving our Net Zero goals and improving people’s welfare. The evidence suggests that with two-thirds of people not making improvements to their homes in 2023, some groups are being left behind.

The next Government must take action on energy efficiency not only to maintain the UK’s momentum in cutting carbon emissions, but as importantly to improve the health and wellbeing of people across the country. There are a number of actions the Government can take, working with industry and consumers to tackle the issues raised by the polling presented here:

  • Expand eligibility and the number of potential measures for the Great British Insulation Scheme and Energy Company Obligation scheme, and work to ensure long-term certainty in the future of subsidy and obligations to enable sustainable growth in the market and supply chain for energy efficiency.
  • Deliver measures to improve the energy efficiency of the private rented sector, including introducing a gradually increasing requirement for a minimum EPC rating for rental properties, and improving information and support for landlords and tenants.
  • Review taxation and wider fiscal measures to incentivise energy efficiency improvements, including expanding VAT exemptions for energy efficient materials, and introducing Stamp Duty relief for homes where the energy efficiency has been improved.
  • Assess the supply chain and skills requirements surrounding energy efficiency and low carbon heat, re-assign existing skills funding to increase the number of trained installers in the UK, and work with industry to deliver sustainable growth in both supply and demand.
  • Work in collaboration with the energy industry to enhance engagement and information provision for consumers about available energy efficiency measures and applicable funding schemes.
  • Work in collaboration with the energy and financial sectors to develop more and better options for green finance to reduce the barrier presented by upfront costs of energy efficiency.
  • Increase the level of funding assigned to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, enabling more households to take on measures under the scheme following the recent uplift of the grant level for each measure.

Sources

All data taken from a Public First poll of 2,016 UK adults, conducted online 25th January – 29th January 2024. Full results are available on the Public First website


[1] Energy efficiency of housing in England and Wales: 2023 (ONS, 2023)

[2] Where to find the most energy efficient homes in the UK (UKERC, 2020)

[3] Energy Efficiency in the Private Rented Sector (Generation Rent, 2023)

[4] Those describing themselves as “struggling to make ends meet”. The least financially comfortable group “cannot afford costs” omitted due to small sample size.

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