Consumer attitudes towards greener homes
Our key findings for greener homes
Smart Energy Meter
Gas Boiler Ban
An insight into the future of greener homes
Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and it’s central to our purpose.
We recognise our responsibility to support our customers and play our part in helping the UK move to a net zero carbon economy. With buildings generating around 15% of UK carbon emissions, there is a pressing need to make fair and sustainable changes to help cut emissions from our homes and places of work.
Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition
Helping our customers in this way is vital, but with a challenge as large and complex as this we know that it’s not enough on its own. We’re working with several organisations involved in the greening of UK buildings and have established the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition.
- British Gas
- Worcester Bosch
- Support from Citizens Advice
We're aiming to work together to improve the energy efficiency of UK buildings. Raising awareness of the impacts that this transition will likely have and the importance of acting is our first area of focus.
As a result, we’ve launched the Greener Homes Attitude Tracker, supported by IHS Markit. The survey will track consumer awareness and engagement in this challenge, and gauge how this is changing over time to help us shape our actions and customer support as a result.
Read on to find out more about our findings or download the July 2021 survey results.
We asked survey households, who are planning to purchase a property in the next 10 years, what factors they sought when selecting a home and the importance of certain environmental features.
- Unsurprisingly, many households (67%) regarded the cost of a property as 'very important'. It was closely followed by the property location (65%).
- When looking at aspects surrounding the environment, risk of flooding (54% stated ‘very important’), levels of noise pollution (40%), local greenery (38%), and air quality (36%) were still fairly significant but of lesser importance to households.
- The Energy Performance rating (EPC rating) of a property was considered a ‘very important’ factor by just 29% of households who are looking to purchase a property in the next decade, the fourth lowest of the 12 factors surveyed.
Homebuyer preferences on environmental factors
To get a deeper understanding of homebuyers’ preferences, we questioned respondents on the importance of certain environmental features and energy saving property improvements.
- 34% of respondents who are looking to buy in the next 10 years regarded double-glazed windows as an essential feature, the highest among the 18 items listed and compared to just 11% for triple-glazed windows. Next on the list of essential ‘green’ property features were loft insulation (24%) and cavity wall insulation (20%).
- Solar panels were seen as a ‘nice to have’ feature, with only 7% reporting they are essential but a further 37% either stating they are ‘very important’ or ‘fairly important’. It was a similar picture for electric car charging points and rainwater harvesting systems.
- Looking at home energy efficiency as a whole, having an EPC rating of C or above was seen as essential by 15% of prospective homebuyers. However, a combined total of 63% said it was very important or fairly important, the highest of all the items listed and showing that having an energy efficient property was important to some extent for the vast majority of homebuyers.
Energy efficient home improvements
When asked about improving the environmental sustainability of their property, 52% of homeowners in July indicated that they intend to enhance their property’s sustainability over the course of the next decade.
- However, just 15% plan to make changes in the next 12 months.
- More than a quarter of homeowners (26%) anticipate making changes within the next 1 to 5 years, with a further 16% planning to carry out improvements in 6 to 10 years time.
A notable proportion of survey respondents (29%) do not have any plans to make improvements to the environmental sustainability of their home through the next decade, highlighting that for many homeowners, sustainability is either a relatively low priority or unaffordable.
Costs for energy efficient home improvements
The cost of carrying out the work was by far the most widely noted barrier to making improvements:
- Two-thirds of UK homeowners not actively planning to make improvements suggest costs are an issue.
- Followed by the availability of financing options, which nearly a third of respondents considered a barrier to making their home more sustainable.
For many homeowners, improving the environmental sustainability of their home is not yet a consideration. Among those who were not planning to make improvements in the next ten years, 66% said they had not even considered how to make positive changes to the sustainability of their property.
Green items already installed in properties
Turning to the current condition of properties and what ‘green’ items are already installed:
- Less than half (44%) of those surveyed had a smart energy meter already installed in their property, although these were the most likely ‘green’ item to be installed in the next 12 months, of the 18 monitored, followed by a composting bin.
Looking across the next 10 years as a whole:
- An electric car charging point was the most likely energy efficient device to be installed, in line with the rising usage of sustainable vehicles, with 36% of homeowners planning to add this to their property.
- Followed closely by smart meters and solar panels (both 29%).
Additional questions were added to July's survey to ask if homeowners were aware of potential plans from the UK Government to ban the installation of gas boilers in existing homes in the UK by 2035.
- Around half of the homeowners surveyed (47%) said they were aware of the potential plans.
- A second question revealed that, even among homeowners aware of this, very few had started preparing. The most common action taken was to research alternatives to use instead of a gas boiler, with 9% saying they had done so.
To gauge the financial preparedness of UK homeowners for a potential gas boiler ban, we asked them how confident they were of being able to afford a more sustainable alternative in the next 12 months.
- Only 12% said they were 'very confident' of being able to afford to replace their gas boiler with a greener alternative at an estimated cost of £5,000.
- A further 26% stated they were 'fairly confident'.
To aid the transition towards greener homes, many households indicated that additional funding through grants and subsidies was needed, alongside having more information on the options available and the benefits – both financial and environmental – of making improvements to the environmental sustainability of their homes.
Green lifestyle choices
Questions regarding consumer habits and the environment were asked to households in July 2021.
Respondents were often conscious of their daily habits, and the associated impacts on the environment, with many actively looking to reduce their carbon footprint and household waste.
- Efforts to minimise food waste (69%) and home energy usage (58%) were at the forefront of actions undertaken by survey respondents.
- However, less than one-in-ten said they drive an electric vehicle, while only 11% stated that they cycle to places instead of using a car, to reduce their environmental impact.
You can find out more about your carbon footprint in our app with our CoGo tool
With green banking products becoming more widely available and important to the transition towards a green economy, we asked how likely homeowners are to take out such products.
- The most popular green banking option were green investments or savings, which 6% of respondents said they already had, and a further 19% were considering taking out.
- However, for all green banking products listed*, including green mortgages, most households stated they did not have it and were not considering taking it out.
About IHS Markit
IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 business and government customers, including 80 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world’s leading financial institutions.
IHS Markit is a registered trademark of IHS Markit Ltd. and/or its affiliates. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners © 2021 IHS Markit Ltd. All rights reserved.
The NatWest Greener Homes Attitude Tracker survey was first conducted in May 2021 and is compiled by IHS Markit. The survey is based on 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 reflects the true composition of the population to ensure the accuracy of the survey results.