What the UK thinks about its homes

Published:  07 August, 2014

The UK public’s attitude towards their homes and energy saving has been revealed by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), in the first of a series of public opinion trackers known as UK Pulse.

Nearly half of householders (44%) claim to live in homes with draught problems, 38% in homes with condensation problems and 29% in homes with mould, according to the survey’s findings. All three issues were even higher among renters.

Meanwhile, 24% of homeowners suffering from draughts are planning to install energy-efficiency upgrades in the next year, compared with 12% of homeowners overall.

Home renewables, such as solar panels, were considered to be the “ideal” energy efficiency improvement if money and hassle were no object, with most respondents out of the 2,000 putting this ahead of wall and loft insulation and draught excluders.

In addition, 47% of householders would like to know the suitability of their home for renewable energy measures.

David Weatherall, energy efficiency expert at the EST, said: “We need to move away from big messages for broad audiences to information that is tailored to people’s individual motivations, their lifestyle and their home. We can no longer get away with a ‘one size fits all’ energy-efficiency message for UK consumers.

“People’s motivations for changing behaviour, or choosing how and where to invest money in energy efficiency, are diverse across genders, age groups and UK regions, as well as being heavily influenced by the type of property people own or rent.”

Other findings highlighted the UK public’s attitudes towards technologies and domestic appliances:

  • The majority of homebuyers and renters enthused over renewable energy features, with 59% more likely to rent or buy a property with a renewable energy system such as a solar panel or heat pump
  • Forty percent of those who feel their energy use is out of their control blame too many appliances in their home
  • More than half (54%) of all tumble-dryer users use their tumble dryer at least once a week during the summer
  • There is an appetite for bigger TVs with 54% buying TVs in the past year which are 39in or over
  • However, 78% of householders using their tumble dryer in summer, and buying TVs in the past year which are 39in or over, claim to be concerned about energy bills.

Following these findings from the first UK Pulse, the EST is calling for a “radical shift” in how industry sells the benefits of energy efficiency for the home.

Mr Weatherall said: “From our Home Analytics data of the entire UK housing stock, we know that householders and landlords have installed the measures that offer the quickest wins and biggest energy-saving paybacks; millions of cavity walls have been insulated in recent years and virtually no completely non-insulated lofts remain.

“This is good news. However, as our homes improve, the opportunities change. In the next stage of the evolution of our homes, we need householders to engage with their energy use in a new, deeper way that focuses on the importance on comfort and control, as well as the cost benefits of energy efficiency.”

Through the UK Pulse research, the EST has identified several new opportunities for encouraging energy efficiency in the home:

  • Promoting comprehensive insulation solutions for all homes
  • Encouraging rapid uptake of new energy-saving technologies as they emerge
  • Continuing to bring home renewable energy into the mainstream
  • Transforming householders’ ability to monitor and understand their energy use.

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