UK households are increasingly likely to go greener sooner as energy price rises push them to consider taking action to drive down costs, with around seven in ten planning to make improvements.
The findings come from new research conducted by Nationwide as part of its ongoing efforts to help homeowners make their properties more energy efficient. Britain’s biggest building society is pushing for an accelerated national retrofitting programme as part of the Green Homes Action Group.
While 69 per cent of households are intending to make their homes greener, and 45 per cent have already made some improvements, 42 per cent want to enhance their home but either haven’t started the process or simply don’t know where to begin.
The constriction of household finances is apparent, with people saying that they would consider making their homes greener if their energy costs were to increase by an average of £45 per month. Last July, this figure stood at £56, the same as the expected average impact on households following the energy cap rise, amounting to £672 a year.
The findings also highlight how quickly perceptions around green improvements, particularly when prices are rising, have changed when compared to last year. Some 80 per cent of respondents were now more inclined to make green home improvements than they were six months ago. Additionally, 71 per cent say their carbon footprint is important to them - higher than when Nationwide conducted similar research in July (60%).
Despite this, there is widespread confusion around where to start in making a home greener and significant uncertainty regarding costs. While more than two thirds (68%) say some form of a grant would help cover costs, more than half (54%) said a one-stop shop providing impartial advice, or ‘green skills’ register for trusted, skilled tradespeople, would encourage them to take action by helping them understand what improvements their home needed.
Claire Tracey, Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer at Nationwide, said: “Ensuring our homes are better insulated and powered by cleaner energy is one of the best ways to protect against rising fuel prices. Our research tells us people want to make green home improvements to lower their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint. But they need support. This can only be achieved through a national retrofitting programme, which has the full commitment of government and business and, most importantly, is fairly financed. As consumers brace themselves for higher energy prices, the time to act to make our homes more energy efficient is now. We stand ready to support and to work with others, in the spirit of mutuality, to help ensure that no household is left behind.”
The research follows the challenge laid down by the Nationwide-convened Green Homes Action Group, following the energy cap rise, to government to deliver a long-term solution to better protect households against volatile energy prices. The Group, which is made up of businesses and charities with a shared interest in making the UK’s homes more sustainable, stated that greater focus is needed on a national retrofitting strategy to make our homes more energy efficient.
Nationwide is currently running a solar panel pilot across Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire and East Sussex in recent months aimed at taking away the confusion and providing a straightforward process to help people green their homes. The first installations have been taking place in recent weeks and the Society is currently reviewing how it could further help members green their homes, perhaps by offering more solutions and services, in addition to solar panels.
The Society also has a £1 billion loan fund available for all existing mortgage members to help kickstart green home improvements and retrofitting. This forms part of its ambition for at least half of the Society’s housing stock to be EPC C rated or above by 2030. At least half of the loan must be used to fund a range of sustainable home improvements, including the addition of solar panels, air source heat pumps and electric car charging points.