Plumbers win battle of the trades

Published:  02 June, 2009

UK: A nationwide poll revealed that plumbers are the most likely of all tradespeople to offer green advice to customers.

The research was commissioned as part of the Energy Saving Trust's Building in the Dark campaign which was launched today.

The survey, commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust, showed that more than eight in 10 (81%) of plumbers would offer energy efficiency advice compared to just 27% of carpenters.

Electricians came in second at 73%, with conservatory installers at 62%, builders at 56% and roofing/loft conversion specialists at just 48%.

The poll of 241 tradespeople was undertaken by Lychgate Projects and comprised telephone interviews across six trade sectors with UK contractors. The interviews took place over four days in May 2009.

It also found that 55% tradespeople would offer green advice more often if they had more information. Over four-fifths (84) would like to be able to give energy efficiency advice that was trusted by their customers.

More than two-thirds (68%) of tradespeople want clearer explanations of current environmental legislation while almost eight in 10 (78%) needed better guidance about changes in the pipeline for energy-efficiency requirements.

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said: "If the national target of an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 is to be met it is vital we tackle the lack of energy efficiency in our existing housing stock. We simply must act now and not be afraid to go over and above the minimum energy efficiency building standards.

"Latest figures show that around £24bn is spent annually on repair, maintenance and improvement works in UK housing and some of this work represents a missed opportunity to make green improvements.

"Real cost savings – in terms of labour and minimising disruption – are on offer to householders who employ tradespeople to install energy-efficiency measures when they are in doing other work.

"Householders can on average save up to £340 a year on energy bills through green improvements.

"Seventy-five per cent of people in the UK believe the best way to improve the energy efficiency of a home is when the builders are in, but until tradespeople have the knowledge, training and skills to be able to offer this expertise as second nature then they will be building in the dark."

The Energy Saving Trust Housing programme works with housing professionals to achieve higher standards of energy efficiency in the UK housing market. The programme provides free technical guidance and solutions to help UK housing professionals design, build and refurbish to high levels of energy efficiency.

Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders said: "There are already some entrepreneurial tradespeople out there and we are increasingly seeing businesses developing special services for householders who want greener and more energy efficient homes.

“We would like to this to become the norm rather than the exception but to increase the number of tradespeople offering energy efficient improvement works there needs to be greater demand from homeowners.

"One way to increase demand would be for the Government to cut VAT to five per cent for property repairs thereby offering an incentive to have building work done. Coupling a VAT cut with more training for tradesmen should mean a real increase in energy efficient homes in the UK."

Separate research – of 2362 people from across the UK - found that just one in six (17%) of British householders would trust the advice of a tradesperson already doing work in their house if they offered to install energy efficiency measures.

The survey of 2362 UK consumers also found:

Around half (49%) of respondents have never had a tradesperson recommend energy efficiency measures in their home.

Respondents felt of all the trades, electricians were the mostly likely to be able to offer the best advice on how to install green measure in the home.

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