Energy efficient housing tracker - July 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

Planning home improvements

66% of homeowners plan improvements to the environmental sustainability of their property in the next ten years, up from 63% in Q1.

Offsetting installation costs

Homeowners estimate it would take an average of 15 years for the savings in regular energy bills to offset the estimated installation cost of £34,500 for retrofitting a typical UK home.

EPC rating importance

40% 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.

Minimising energy usage

61% of households reported trying to minimise home energy use in Q2, down from a peak of 64% in Q4 2022.

Green home improvements index

Homeowners' attitudes towards green home improvements reversed their recent decline in Q2. After having fallen in each of the previous two quarters, the proportion of homeowners planning to make improvements to the environmental sustainability of their main property in the next ten years rose to 66% from 63%. There was also a slight increase in the number of homeowners with plans for upgrades in the next 12 months, with the proportion ticking up from a recent low of 21% in Q1 to 22%.   

Energy performance certificate (EPC) ranking

Two-in-five (40%) prospective homebuyers looking to purchase a property in the next 10 years stated that a property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating was a ‘very important’ factor to consider. This was up fractionally from 39% in the opening quarter of the year but still below Q4 2022’s 41%. The result moved the EPC rating up one place in the rankings ahead of access to public transport (39% stated 'very important'). Cost remained the most important factor (68%), followed by property location (63%).

Energy efficient home improvements

Latest data showed renewed appetite for energy efficient home upgrades, with the proportion of UK homeowners planning to make improvements rising for the first time in nine months in Q2.  

Nevertheless, the cost of the work required remained the foremost barrier to making sustainable home improvements. Installing a heat pump, cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, double glazed windows and solar panels in a typical UK house is estimated, by Quidos Limited, to cost £34,500.

Slight increase in homeowners planning green home improvements in the next 12 months

Appetite for making green home improvements in the next 12 months increased only slightly, with the proportion of homeowners with plans ticking up from 21% in Q1 to 22% in Q2. Data showed a similarly fractional rise in plans for the next 1-5 years (32% up from 31%). There was a more noticeable shift in attitudes towards longer-term plans, with the proportion of those intending to make upgrades in the next 6-10 years rising from 17% to 19%.

A smart energy meter and composting bin were the two green home features most likely to be installed by homeowners in the next 12 months, both cited by 11% of respondents. 

Increase in homeowners planning to install car chargers, solar pannels and triple-glazing

An electric car charging point remained the feature most likely to be installed over the next 10 years (40%), ahead of solar panels (38%) and triple-glazing (35%). For solar panels, this was up from 32% a year earlier – the largest increase amongst the surveyed features.

The cost of having work done is the greatest barrier to sustainable home improvements in the next 10 years

Among the homeowners who stated that they either were not planning to make any improvements in the next 10 years (20%) or didn't know if they would (14%), almost three-quarters said that the cost of the work required was a barrier. The data suggested that it was the biggest obstacle by far, ahead of the level of disruption the work would cause (cited by 32%) and the availability of financing options (29%).

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

Homebuyer preferences showed very little change in the second quarter, but digging a little deeper, we found that attitudes towards home energy efficiency in general and specific green features varied greatly by age group.   

20% of people looking to purchase a property in the next 10 years considered an Energy Performance Certificate rating of C or above an 'essential' feature, according to data collected in the three months to June. This was little-changed from 19% in Q1. A further 35% considered it a 'very important' feature. 

Essential home features

  • The most desired feature was double-glazing, which was stated as 'essential' by 35% of respondents looking to buy in the next 10 years.
  • A smart energy meter was considered 'essential' by 20% of prospective homebuyers, up from 17% a year earlier. That was the biggest rise among the surveyed features. 
  • Solar panels were one of the green home features considered more essential than was the case in the three months to March (12% up from 10%). 

In terms of more general factors, the cost of a property remained of utmost importance to prospective homebuyers, ahead of both location and property features. That said, the proportion of those stating that the cost of a property was a 'very important' factor ticked down for the first time in nine months, dropping from a series high of 71% in Q1 to 68%.

Green lifestyle choices

Latest data pointed to a general reduction in efforts to cut energy bills since the winter, with changes in behaviour particularly noticeable amongst younger age groups.

How are households adjusting to reduce their energy bills?

During the three months to June, switching off devices that are usually left on was the most common action taken to reduce energy bills as a result of the recent rise in the cost of energy and the cost of living generally. However, the proportion of households having done so fell from 47% in Q1 to 44%. Efforts to avoid overfilling the kettle also decreased, down from 45% to 43%, while there were notable reductions in the numbers of those using appliances less often (41% from 46%) and using a microwave rather than an oven (27% from 32%).

Minimising food waste is the most common action being taken

Fewer households reported trying to minimise home energy use generally, with the proportion falling further from a peak of 64% in Q4 2022 to 61%. Minimising food waste remained the most common action taken among the green lifestyle choices monitored by the survey. However, the proportion of households doing so decreased slightly from 70% in Q1 to 68%.

Why not create your own home energy plan?

We've created a new tool which could 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.

More households reporting that they already have a green mortgage

Interest in green financial products meanwhile perked up slightly in the second quarter. 5% of households reported that they already had a green mortgage, up from 4% in the previous two quarters, with a further 19% currently considering taking one out. It was a similar story for all of the green financial products surveyed in fact, with data showing across-the-board, albeit slight, increases in the attractiveness of green home-related loans, green savings and investments and green current accounts.  

Download the Greener Homes Attitude Tracker - July 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 (Q2 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, 13th– 17th April, 12th –15th May, and 8th – 10th June 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@ihsmarkit.com.

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