Cold, draughty, mouldy, damp: What UK public think about their homes

New research tapping into the public’s energy saving attitudes, motivations and behaviours has been revealed by the Energy Saving Trust in the first of a series of public opinion trackers known as the UK Pulse.

The findings from the Ipsos MORI survey of over 2,000 UK respondents show nearly half of householders (44 per cent) claim to live in homes with draught problems, 38 per cent in homes with condensation problems and 29 per cent in homes with mould. All three issues were even higher among renters.

However, home owners with these problems are the most likely to be taking action with nearly a quarter of homeowners (24 per cent) living in draughty homes planning to install energy efficiency upgrades in the next year, compared with 12 per cent 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 putting this ahead of wall and loft insulation and draught excluders, despite often living in homes with draught problems.

In addition, nearly half (47 per cent) of householders would like to know the suitability of their home for renewable energy measures, with the Energy Saving Trust’s online tools, such as the Home Energy Check, helping a homeowner to identify what energy saving improvements they could make and whether their property is suitable for generating energy based on their property type and budget.

David Weatherall, energy efficiency expert, Energy Saving Trust, says:

“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:

  • Majority of home buyers and renters were enthused by renewable energy features, with 59 per cent more likely to rent or buy a property with a renewable energy system such as a solar panel or heat pump;
  • Nearly half (40 per cent) of those whose energy use feels out of control blame too many appliances in their home;
  • Over half of all tumble dryer users in houses (54 per cent) use their tumble dryer at least once a week during the summer;
  • There is an appetite for bigger TVs with over half (54 per cent) buying TVs in the past year which are 39 inches or over;
  • However, 78 per cent of householders using their tumble dryer in summer, and buying TVs in the past year which are 39 inches or over claim to be concerned about energy bills.

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

Weatherall adds:

“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 totally uninsulated lofts remain.

“This is good news. But 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 focus on the importance on comfort and control, as well as the cost benefits of energy efficiency.

“The UK Pulse has shown the importance of comfort, such as the condition of the home, to homeowners in acting as motivation for energy saving improvements in the home, while also uncovering other energy saving motivations and attitudes from the UK public.”

Through the UK Pulse research the Energy Saving Trust has identified several new opportunities for encouraging energy efficiency in the home:

  • Promoting comprehensive insulation solutions for all homes: this will inevitably entail higher costs than the lower-hassle actions that have been achieved so far;
  • Encouraging rapid uptake of new energy saving technologies as they emerge, for example LED lighting;
  • Continuing to bring home renewable energy into the mainstream so householders with suitable homes understand the benefits of the installation; and
  • Transforming householders’ ability to monitor and understand their energy use – thereby reducing their energy waste.

Information about the Energy Saving Trust’s Home Energy Check, an interactive online tool that lets homeowners find out about which energy-saving and renewable generating systems suit their homes, can be found here.

Information about the Energy Saving Trust’s Home Analytics service that provides essential data and analysis on the UK housing stock to help target energy efficiency activity can be found here.

For more information on the UK Pulse or the Energy Saving Trust’s business services contact business(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)est.org.uk