Latest Green Homes Attitude Tracker from NatWest reveals cost-of-living is proving a major barrier to delivering new energy efficiency measures
The cost-of-living crisis has prompted homeowners to hit the brakes on planned sustainable improvements to their properties, despite the fact such upgrades could help them save money on their energy bills.
That is the conclusion of new research from NatWest and S&P Global based on a survey of more than 4,500 people across the UK undertaken late last year.
The Greener Homes Attitude Tracker found that 26 per cent of homeowners said they would be less likely to implement energy efficiency measures in the next 12 months due to cost of living pressures.
According to Institute for Public Policy Research, the average home could save £500 a year on their energy bills through measures such as good insulation and heat pumps when the new price cap from April.
However, with household finances under pressure, 71 per cent of respondents said that they had no plans to make changes to their property over the next decade, citing the cost of the work as the biggest barrier to implementing home improvements.
A further 29 per cent of respondents said they would be unlikely to make sustainable changes to their homes due to the lack of financing options.
The banking sector is exploring a range of new green mortgage and loan services that are designed to help more households undertake energy efficiency upgrades.
NatWest said it is currently helping to fund a series of greener home retrofit pilot projects for customers across the UK through its Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition. The bank said that it is working with industry partners Worcester Bosch, Citizens Advice, and British Gas to assess the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of participating properties and install appropriate solutions to improve energy efficiency and cut emissions.
"We know that homeowners are keen to make changes that will save money and combat climate change - but the costs of making these changes remain a barrier for homeowners," said Lloyd Cochrane, head of mortgages at NatWest. "Our retrofit pilot and quarterly tracker have informed our support for customers. These insights have also formed part of our work across industry and our engagement with government to propose policies that can work positively to support consumers improve the energy efficiency of their homes."
While plans to make improvements may have slowed for homeowners, the Greener Homes Attitude Tracker identified that the EPC rating of a property is steadily becoming more important to prospective homebuyers with energy efficiency a higher priority for buyers than other factors such as the amount of local green space and access to public transport.
More than one in five prospective homebuyers said an EPC rating of C or above was an "essential" feature, according to the Tracker. Researchers suggested the growing importance attached to EPC ratings could be a result of the UK government's goal for all existing homes to reach an EPC rating of grade C or higher by 2035, as well as the desire to ensure cheaper bills.
The report comes in the same week as the Climate Change Committee wrote to Ministers urging them to reform the EPC regime to ensure the ratings system better reflects the actual energy consumption of a building.
With regards to energy saving measures in the home, the Tracker found that nearly two-thirds of households are trying to minimise their home energy use, up from 59 per cent a year earlier.
The survey found that the most common energy-saving people have embraced is avoiding overfilling the kettle, which was citied by almost half of households.
Forty-three percent of respondents said that they were turning down the heating, with 37 per cent of respondents stating that they were turning radiators off altogether.
For longer terms measures to improve energy efficiency around the home, an electric car charging point and solar panels were the green home features which respondents said they would be most likely to install over the next 10 years.
* This article was originally published here