Energy efficient housing tracker - January 2024 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

Rented home improvements

63% of UK renters expect a rise in rent in the next 12 months, of which 75% want landlords to make sustainable changes to their properties.

Rented homes less insulated

Rental properties are typically less well insulated, with tanks, pipes and cavity wall insulation in 42% of homes versus 58% for owner occupied properties.

EPC rating importance

39% of prospective homebuyers looking to purchase a property in the next 10 years stated that a property’s EPC rating was a very important factor, down from 41% a year ago.

Minimising food waste

Minimising food waste remained the most commonly practised green lifestyle choice, with 71% stating that they do so. Those taking action to minimise home energy use has increased to 65% vs 63% in H2 2022.

Graph displaying the volumes of homeowners planning on making sustainability improvements to their property

Green home improvements index

Data collected in the second half of 2023 shows that homeowners have rowed back on plans to make improvements to the environmental sustainability of their property. Looking across the next ten years, the proportion of homeowners planning to make improvements fell from an average of 67% in H2 2022 to 64%. Meanwhile, at 20%, short-term plans are now at their lowest for two years, and even trended downwards during the second half of 2023.

Energy performance certificate (EPC) ranking

A property's energy efficiency has become slightly less important to prospective homebuyers relative to other factors in the past year. Ranked by the proportion of respondents that answered "very important", a property's Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating was tenth out of the 12 factors surveyed in the three months to December. 39% of those looking to purchase a property in the next ten years said it was "very important", down from a peak of 41% in Q4 2022. 

Energy efficient home improvements

With homeowners' budgets under pressure from inflation and rising mortgage rates, the past year has a seen a reduction in the proportion planning to make improvements to the environmental sustainability of their property, with our latest survey finding that the cost of the work required remains the number one barrier.

In the context of the support being offered for consumers to shift away from fossil fuels, over half of consumers said the UK Government was moving too slowly to aid the transition.

Graph displaying home improvement planning

Decrease in homeowners planning green home improvements

Around one-in-five homeowners reported plans to make improvements to the environmental sustainability of their property in the next 12 months, data collected in the six months to December showed. This was down from 23% in H2 2022 and the lowest since the second half of 2021. Similarly, the proportion with plans for improvements in the next 1-5 years has also fallen since H2 2022, down from 33% to 32%.

Upfront costs are the most common barrier to starting green home improvements

The most common barrier was the cost of the work required. Among those that stated so, around two-thirds (67%) said the upfront cost was simply too expensive, data collected in Q4 showed. Although home improvement loans give homeowners the option to spread payments over time, many were reluctant to take on debt to fund the work (55%). Another common reason why cost was a barrier was that it takes too long for the savings on energy bills to offset the initial outlay (37%). 

Electric car chargers, solar panels and triple glazing top the list of home improvement plans

Across the next ten years, an electric car charging point was the green home feature most likely to be installed among those surveyed. 37% of homeowners reported plans to fit one, which was down from 41% in the second half of 2022. It was followed by solar panels (35%) and triple-glazing (34%)

Our greener homes retrofit project

We 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 followed our customers through every stage of their retrofit journey - from start to finish - and we're now sharing it all with you. 

Homebuyer preferences

A property's energy efficiency continues to rank as a low priority among prospective homebuyers, paling in comparison to cost and location. Nevertheless, there is still great importance placed on the likes of double glazing and loft insulation.

The majority of renters expect to pay more in rent in the next year, of which many believe that their landlords should make sustainable home improvements to offset the rise.

Importance of EPC rating

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of a property is considered a "very important" factor by 39% of households looking to purchase in the next 10 years, according to data collected in the final quarter of 2023. This represents a fall from 41% a year earlier. The EPC rating is in fact well down in the priority list, below the cost of a property (68% stated this is "very important"), its location (63%), and even internet speed (51%).

Green lifestyle choices

Amid still-elevated energy prices and ongoing cost of living pressures, the vast majority of households report efforts to minimise energy use. We also find a growing number are regularly recycling clothing and using public transport. However, the uptake of green financial products has stalled. 

How much are households spending on their enery bills?

We asked households how much they typically spend per month on energy bills. Of those that reported having both mains gas and mains electricity, 23% answered between £100-£149, which equates to £1,200-£1,788 per year. The next most common answer, at 18%, was between £150-£199 (£1,800-£2,388 per year).

What are the most commonly practised green lifestyle choices?

Minimising food waste remained the most commonly practised green lifestyle choice among those surveyed in the second half of 2023, with 71% of respondents stating that they do so. Close behind was minimising home energy use (65% in H2), where the proportion was up slightly from the second half of 2022. 

More people are opting to use public transport

The green lifestyle choices that have gained the most traction in the past year are regular use of public transport (29% in H2 up from 25% in H2 2022) and regular recycling of clothing i.e. either buying or selling second-hand, or gifting (48% in H2 up from 46% in H2 2022). Conversely, fewer are considering the environment when making their dietary choices.

The NatWest Home Energy Hub

We’ve launched a one-stop shop to help homeowners create a more energy-efficient home - the NatWest Home Energy Hub:

  • Get a free Home Energy Plan tool to help get started.
  • Find out about Energy Performance Certificate ratings (EPCs), get tips on managing energy use and how they could reduce costs.
  • Discover ways that could improve home energy efficiency online or with a visit from an energy expert at a discounted rate.
  • Find out how much any changes could cost and the benefits of energy-efficiency home improvements.
  • Connect with experts and trustworthy tradespeople who can do the work.
  • Explore various funding options including grants and or find out how NatWest could help.

Slight decrease in uptake of green financial products

Turning to the use of green financial products, there was a slight decrease in uptake in the second half of 2023 compared to the situation a year earlier. In H2, 4% of respondents reported having a green mortgage, which typically offer reduced rates on energy efficient homes, down from 6% in H2 2022. It was a similar picture for green home-related loans (4% in H2 versus 6% a year earlier), green investments or savings (7% versus 8%), and green car loans (5% versus 6%). 

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 2023 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, 12th– 13th October, 9th –13th November, and 7th – 11th December 2023. 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@spglobal.com.

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