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Upfront costs preventing home energy efficiency improvements

Upfront costs preventing home energy efficiency improvements
Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

New polling has revealed the barriers people face to improving energy efficiency and bringing down bills.

Energy UK and One Home conducted polling with Public First to understand what energy efficiency improvements – if any – people made to their homes following recent increases in energy costs.

Although energy prices have now dropped slightly from the record highs of 2022, last year households still saw bills remain at more than double their pre-crisis level.

Reducing the amount of wasted energy through improved energy efficiency is one of the ways houses can permanently reduce energy bills, while also reducing the UK’s dependence on imported gas.

However, the polling results show that more than two thirds of people did nothing to improve the energy efficiency of their homes in 2023, due to upfront costs.

Even during a period of high energy costs, it is clear that striving to be energy efficient is not seen as a financially viable solution for the majority of individuals.

Barriers to improvements in rented homes

The results also showed that private and council tenants were less likely to have made energy efficiency improvements in 2023 than homeowners, with the majority stating they could not make significant changes to their rented homes.

Energy UK said that, with one in four private renters living in fuel poverty, developing minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rental sector is essential.

Charles Wood, Energy UK’s deputy director, said: “It is concerning to see so few people improving energy efficiency, especially during a period of high energy costs. The cheapest energy is that which we don’t use, but many households still waste money and energy when heating their homes. The UK has some of the draughtiest housing stock in Western Europe, and this is having both financial and health implications for many people – and is especially unfair to those who rent and are therefore unable to make changes to their homes.

“Government campaigns and support schemes are welcome, and energy suppliers have delivered measures for many consumers under these existing schemes, but we need to go much further and faster. There are many ways that Government and industry can work together to ensure people can access accurate advice and information regarding the finance options available to them. Likewise, it is important that it is as easy as possible for individuals to implement the right choices for them – because the sooner action is taken, the more people can save.”

Energy efficiency measures are ‘always worthwhile’

Angela Terry, One Home’s chief executive, said: “What people are telling us from this survey is that they are not investing to make their homes warmer and cosier because they don’t believe energy efficiency is worthwhile financially.

“However, the opposite is true. Simple measures, such as draught-proofing and hot water cylinder jackets, can pay back in less than a year. Meanwhile, loft insulation in a typical home pays back in three years. Even if you plan to sell your house, insulation will improve the energy performance certificate (EPC) and therefore the value of your home, so energy efficiency measures are always worthwhile to cut costs and carbon.”