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Energy saving home improvements put on hold amid cost of living crisis

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Homeowners are putting off building work to make their homes more energy efficient amid concerns about the rising cost of living.

Half of those who own their own home admitted to stalling planned home improvements to bring down energy bills and cut carbon emissions because the up front costs were too high.

The study, carried out by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and YouGov, also indicated that one in three homeowners would invest in green technology to lower bills in the future but had to prioritise existing living expenses. 

Underestimating costs

Two in five of those planning to upgrade by insulating cavity walls and attics, installing triple glazing, adding solar panels to their roofs and replacing gas boilers with heat pumps were underestimating the cost, the study showed.

These homeowners planned to spend between £1,000 and £5,000 on energy improvements. Based on estimations from Energy Savings Trust that would cover solar panels but not heat pumps. 

Sam Rees, senior public affairs officer at RICS, said: “Retrofitting millions of UK homes will be essential to helping to meet our net zero ambitions, however homeowners’ immediate concerns are understandably with the rising cost of living, especially their energy bills.

“But it is important to recognise that retrofitting and the cost of living are not mutually exclusive issues.” 

Rees said government would have to stump up financial support to help homeowners afford expensive alterations and suggested the energy payments it has promised to dock from energy bills this autumn should be extended to include incentives for sustainable renovations. 

Check first, improve afterwards

Before any significant investment is made on retrofit measures, RICS urged homeowners and the government to ensure a retrofit assessment is undertaken on the property first to prevent unintended consequences occuring, such as overheating or increased energy demand.  

“This is critical to protecting consumers and RICS is undertaking significant research to support such assessments,” Rees added.