Energy efficient housing tracker - January 2023 update

Consumer attitudes towards greener homes

We commissioned the 'Greener Homes Attitude Tracker', based on 4,500 UK individuals, to understand how homebuyers, renters and owners feel about greener homes and the importance of environmental features.

Our key findings for greener homes

Less planning sustainability improvements

The proportion of homeowners planning to make improvements to the environmental sustainability of their properties in the next 12 months and over the next ten years has decreased for the first time since Q2 2021.

Cost of living impacting plans for home improvements

Over a quarter (26%) of homeowners said the rise in the cost of living had made them less likely to implement energy efficiency measures in the next 12 months, up from 23% in Q3.

Smart meters are still the most popular improvement.

A smart energy meter was the item most likely to be installed over the next year, although just over half (54%) of homeowners reported having a smart energy meter already installed. Rental properties lag behind with 48% of households saying they already had one installed.

Future plans for solar panels and electric car chargers.

Medium to longer term, consumers desire electric car charging points and solar panels to improve energy efficiency (stated by 39% and 38% of homeowners respectively).

Green home improvements index

Data collected in the three months to December showed that, for the first time since the Green Home Improvements Index's inception in Q2 2021, there was a decrease in the proportion of homeowners planning to make improvements to the environmental sustainability of their properties, both in terms of the next 12 months (from 24% in Q3 to 22%) and over the next ten years (from 68% in Q3 to 66%). Nevertheless, these proportions were still higher than those recorded a year earlier (16% and 63% respectively).

Energy performance certificate (EPC) ranking

To prospective homebuyers, the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of properties grew in importance throughout 2022. 41% of those surveyed in Q4 who were looking to purchase a property in the next 10 years stated that the EPC rating was a 'very important' factor, up from 33% in Q4 2021. This moved it ahead of ‘Amount of local green space’ in the homebuyer property rankings, and level with both ‘Levels of noise pollution’ and ‘Air quality’.

Energy efficient home improvements

The final quarter of 2022 saw a slight setback in homeowners' plans for energy efficient home improvements, with latest data showing a reduction in the likelihood of measures being implemented both in the next year and over the next decade.

It comes amid an increase in the proportion of those saying they are now less likely to undertake energy efficient home improvements over the next 12 months as a result of the rising cost of living.

22% of homeowners planning improvements over the next 12 months, down from 24% in Q3 2022

Of the homeowners surveyed in the three months to December, 22% stated that they had plans to make improvements to the environmental sustainability of their property over the next 12 months. While this was up from 16% a year earlier, it was below the 24% recorded in Q3 2022.

The rising cost of living was likely a factor behind this decrease. Over a quarter (26%) of homeowners said the rise in the cost of living had made them less likely to implement energy efficiency measures in the next 12 months, up from 23% in Q3. Among the lowest income group (<£15,000 pa), the proportion was 32%.

What energy saving features are homeowners planning to install in the next 12 months?

Around 54% of homeowners reported having a smart energy meter already installed at their main property, up from 47% a year earlier. This was also the item most likely to be installed over the next year (12% said they had plans to install one). However, rental properties continued to lag behind when it came to the uptake of smart energy meters, with 48% of households living in rented accommodation saying they already had one installed. That said, this was a notable improvement from just 40% in Q4 2021.

Electric car chargers top of the list for home improvements

When it came to homeowners' medium to longer-term plans for green home improvements, an electric car charging point once again came out on top. Around 39% stated that they intended to install one over the next decade. However, this was down from 43% in the three months to September.

After an electric car charging point, solar panels and triple-glazed windows were the green home features most likely to be installed over the next 10 years, stated by 38% and 34% of homeowners respectively.

Majority of homeowners have energy efficient lighting however rental properties are lagging

Similarly, whereas 71% of homeowners reported already having energy efficient lighting – a relatively inexpensive way to reduce energy consumption – at their main property, the proportion was only 53% among households living in rented accommodation.

Homeowners are delaying their home improvement plans

Homeowners are pushing back their plans for the installation of triple-glazed windows. The proportion planning to install them in the next 12 months fell from 9% to 7% whilst those planning to install them in the next 6-10 years rose from 13% to 15%.

Our Greener Homes Retrofit Project

We've teamed up with British Gas and Worcester Bosch to cover the cost of home retrofits for nine of our customers, with co-ordination help from Quidos. We're following our customers through every stage of their retrofit journey - from start to finish - and sharing it all with you. 

Homebuyer Preferences

A high Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating is steadily becoming more and more important to prospective homebuyers, and, in doing so, the energy efficiency of a property is now a higher priority than other factors such as the amount of local green space and access to public transport.

At the same time, however, the rising cost of living and increasing mortgage rates are found to be the main reasons why some households have been put off moving.

The importance of the EPC rating of a property

Among the households surveyed in the three months to December, more than one-in-five (21%) of those looking to buy a property in the next 10 years considered an EPC rating of C or above an "essential" property feature. This was up from 17% a year earlier.

The energy efficiency of a property was considered as important as both the level of noise population and air quality in the surrounding area.

Green lifestyle choices

Our latest survey finds that a growing number of UK households are looking for ways to minimise home energy usage, amid higher gas and electricity bills and the rising cost of living generally. Nearly half are avoiding overfilling the kettle, while turning down the heating and having it on less often is also becoming common practice for many.

64% of households trying to minimise home energy use

Data collected in the final three months of 2022 found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of households were trying to minimise home energy use, up from 59% a year earlier. The 5 percentage point annual increase was the biggest rise among all the actions surveyed.

Furthermore, among the oldest age group surveyed (55-to 64-year-olds), the proportion was over 80%, up from 74%.

How are households adjusting to reduce their energy bills?

Amongst the actions being taken by UK households to minimise their home energy usage are:

  • avoiding overfilling the kettle 
  • switching off devices 
  • using appliances less often
  • reduced use of lighting

Many also reported having the heating on less frequently and turning down the thermostat (cited by 45% and 43% respectively), and even going as far as turning off radiators (37%). Worryingly, these actions were generally more common among older age groups.

Why not create your own Home Energy Plan?

We've created a new tool to help you reduce your energy usage while making your home greener.

Get customised suggestions to help your home reach its full energy performance potential. Simply enter your postcode and our free tool will give you tips and help you to plan making your home more energy efficient. 

This could help to reduce your energy bills and your home’s carbon emissions. You don’t have to be a NatWest customer to benefit from it.

Slight decline in the uptake of green financial products at the end of 2022 but more and more consumers are considering these products for the future.

There was a slight decline in the uptake of green financial products towards the end of 2022. The proportion of households reporting that they had a green mortgage fell from 7% in Q3 to 4% in Q4. Still, a further 17% were currently considering taking out a green mortgage.

Download the Greener Homes Attitude Tracker - January 2023

You can download a pdf version of the full report, save and share by using the link below.

Survey methodology

The NatWest Greener Homes Attitude Tracker survey was first conducted in May 2021 and is compiled by S&P Global. The survey is intended to accurately anticipate changing consumer behaviour. The questionnaire is designed to be quick and easy to complete, incorporating a small number of key questions, which encourages regular participation among even high-level respondents.

The survey is based on monthly responses from 1,500 individuals in the UK, with data collected by Ipsos MORI from its panel of respondents aged 18-64. The survey sample is structured according to gender, region and age to ensure the survey results accurately reflect the true composition of the population. Results are also weighted to further improve representativeness.

Ipsos MORI technical details (Q4 2022 survey)

Ipsos MORI interviewed 4,500 adults (in total) from its online panel of respondents, with quota controls set by gender, age and region and the resultant survey data weighted to the known UK profile of this audience by gender, age, region and household income. Interviews were conducted online between, 21st– 25th October, 17th – 22nd November, and 8th – 10th December 2022. Ipsos MORI was responsible for the fieldwork and data collection only and not responsible for the analysis, reporting or interpretation of the survey results.

For further information on the survey methodology, please contact economics@ihsmarkit.com.

About S&P Global

S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) S&P Global provides essential intelligence. We enable governments, businesses and individuals with the right data, expertise and connected technology so that they can make decisions with conviction. From helping our customers assess new investments to guiding them through ESG and energy transition across supply chains, we unlock new opportunities, solve challenges and accelerate progress for the world.

We are widely sought after by many of the world’s leading organizations to provide credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help the world’s leading organizations plan for tomorrow, today.

More on climate change and sustainability