UK homeowners are struggling to make the right energy efficiency choices
Upgrading a home’s energy efficiency before selling could boost its value. But many sellers are being put off by unclear and complex grant schemes.
If you plan on selling your home in the next 12 months, chances are you’ve thought about making it more energy efficient to increase its value. You’ve also probably been confused by the lack of clear information on how to get started and what grants you’re eligible for. Right?
These are just two worrying insights from our recent survey of people in the UK who are planning to sell their homes.
In this article, we’ll share some revealing data about how the UK is sleep-walking into an energy efficiency crisis, as well as presenting solutions to address it.
Sellers want to improve their homes
Encouragingly, our research shows that most people are keen to improve their home’s energy efficiency.
- 75% of people planning to sell their homes in the next year are open to making it more energy-efficient to increase its value.
- 74% are interested in reducing their home’s environmental footprint.
- 75% are looking to save on energy costs.
And they’re all very sensible ideas! Our Energy Efficiency Report shows that energy efficiency measures can increase the value of a home by £15,000, reduce its carbon emissions by three tonnes a year and slash energy bills by over £1,500 a year.
Homeowners are being prevented from taking action
While most homeowners want to make their homes more energy efficient, a lack of clarity is stopping them from doing so.
For example, our survey found that 61% of people planning to sell their homes have looked into government grants for heating improvements but got stuck because they were confused about eligibility.
No one at Snugg was too surprised to hear this. While we’ve made it as clear as possible to identify which grants you may be eligible for using Snugg, searching for this information online can be tricky with no central hub showing the available grants and their criteria.
As a result, 65% wrongly believe that they’re not eligible for government grants. And 69% think that grants are only for people with low incomes (this isn’t the case).
Worst of all, 70% of people say they wouldn't make energy improvements without a government grant.
So those who do decide to go ahead with their installation could be leaving money on the table. And those who don’t may be unnecessarily delaying their upgrade plans and potentially losing out on lower bills, lower carbon emissions and a boost to their property value.
Uncovering a knowledge problem
You can’t make an informed decision if you don’t understand your options. And our research shows that there’s plenty of education to be done around energy efficiency.
If you understand how heat pumps work, you’re one of just 35% of people in the UK who do. And if you know what your home’s EPC rating is, you’re one of just 58% of homeowners who do (worryingly, 16% hadn’t even heard of an EPC before taking the survey).
When you consider that making efficiency improvements such as installing a heat pump can improve your home’s EPC rating, resulting in a more attractive property to prospective buyers, the number of people who don’t have this knowledge is troubling.
Shockingly, 57% of homeowners don’t even know how to begin making their homes more energy efficient.
The government, local councils and the wider energy industry clearly have a long road ahead to bring people up to speed.
Moving forward towards an effective solution
Fortunately, our survey shows that there’s real appetite amongst sellers to improve their home’s energy efficiency for both their wallets and the environment. With 75% of sellers open to energy-efficiency changes, willingness isn’t the problem.
The issue is a lack of education and accessibility, two things that we’ve been working hard to address here at Snugg. But we can only do so much alone.
Homes in the UK rank amongst the worst in Europe for energy efficiency and they’re responsible for around 20% of the country’s CO2 emissions. If the government doesn’t step up, the UK’s Net Zero goals will be on the line.
“Grant schemes are uncoordinated,” says our CEO Robin Peters, “and the government’s ever-shifting position on net zero provides little certainty or clarity to homeowners.”
So what could the government do?
Firstly, we strongly recommend that all grants should be presented on a single online hub. This would make it much easier for homeowners to see which grants are available, review clear eligibility criteria and apply directly online.
Secondly, we want to see more consistency. Government policy changes all too frequently, and this is leading to frustration and confusion. Within just a few years, Rishi Sunak backtracked on several important green home policies, including delaying the 2035 target for phasing out gas boilers and completely scrapping the requirement for landlords to upgrade their properties to an EPC C rating by 2025. This has serious repercussions, putting people off from making improvements and causing the industry to think twice before training more installation specialists which could cause further delays.
Thirdly, there needs to be a bigger effort put into raising awareness across the country. Our survey showed wide regional differences in awareness – just 19% of people in the North East of England knew how much they could receive in grants for home heating, while 44% of Londoners knew. More regular government updates on net zero progress would help keep this on the news agenda, and a national advertising campaign would go a long way to raise awareness. This is an area where local councils can also play a significant part in connecting people with the resources they need.
As our CEO, Robin, says, “It’s vital that we ensure everyone has access to the knowledge needed for simple and affordable home changes that can both help boost the property market and accelerate our transition to net zero.”
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