Household survey on attitudes towards carbon emissions

Ornate chimneys on building
Strawberry Hill House, Horace Walpole’s Gothic Castle, Twickenham

A household survey of over 2,000 UK homeowners has been published on behalf of the Home Builders Federation, in preparation for a summit to plot a route towards reducing net carbon emissions in housing to zero by 2050.

The summit comprises representatives from government, house builders, energy suppliers, material and appliance manufacturers, and environmental groups.

Amendments to Building Regulations will be introduced in 2020, including Part F (Ventilation) and Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) which will reduce emissions from new homes by 31%. The survey reveals further challenges faced by the house building industry, in terms of the delivery of net zero and biodiversity targets.

Homeowners taking part in the household survey were asked to identify their top three biggest issues that concerned the UK. The environment was the main concern of only 20% of the households surveyed, but this came higher than terrorism, housing availability, pensions, taxation or public transport. Despite this, a surprising 54% did not know the energy efficiency rating that applied to the home they live in when they bought it. Instead, people judged the environmental friendliness of their home by how much they could save on household bills by making money saving changes, most popular of which were installing water saving devices and triple glazed windows.

Other matters to be discussed at the summit are the methods of heating new homes. This will include improvements to the thermal efficiency to new houses as well as the provision of technologies and an electricity network capable of supporting the demand from alternative heating systems and car charging points.

Under the Future Homes Standard, gas boilers will not be installed in new homes after 2025 but 80% of those surveyed said their home had one. Only 8% said they had, or knew someone who had, a heat pump.

Key to solving the problem will be convincing consumers that achieving countrywide net zero emissions is important. Only 12% said they thought it was important, although over 40% said it was more important for factories to cut emissions and around 25% said emissions should be cut on public transport or cars.

A third of respondents agreed that mortgage lenders should assess the affordability of energy bills when considering a mortgage application. Only half thought current debt was more important and a third said the affordability of council tax should be assessed.

When asked whether they would pay more for a new home that was carbon neutral, around a third of people said they would be willing – roughly the same as the number who would not.

The cost savings of energy efficiency were more important to two thirds of people moving house but helping the environment was more important to just over one third.

When buying new build property, two thirds of people believed new homes were more energy efficient than older property. However, it was only the third most important factor, behind quality workmanship and how ‘attractive’ a home looked.

Clearly the house building industry has some work to do. See the survey results here.

Back to February 2020 Newsletter