UK properties missing out on £3.1bn a year in energy savings

UK householders and businesses could be losing £3.1bn every year through their failure to make energy efficiency improvements to their properties, according to a new study.

A report by Grundfos and the Centre for Economic & Business Research (CEBR), called Powering Energy Efficiency, contains research showing that homeowners and businesses are reluctant to upgrade their heating systems despite the potential for long-term savings, and calls on the UK government to take action to address the issue.

The study follows last week’s autumn statement in which chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced investment of a further £6bn into energy efficiency by 2025. However, the authors of the report described the pledge as “kicking an urgent issue into the long grass” since the impact of the investment might come too late for many businesses facing “record inflation and volatility”.

The report’s survey found the biggest concern in the home this winter for almost two thirds (64%) of people was rising energy bills, followed by boiler breakdowns (25%) and blackouts (22%).

However, more than one in 10 (12%) said they didn’t know when they last had their boiler serviced, and one in four (23%) were unsure when their heating system was checked for energy efficiency. This trend of inaction continued among the lowest income households, with just under one in five (19%) uninterested in energy efficiency measures despite potential savings.

The survey also found that over a quarter of people in rented accommodation (26%) didn’t know if their heating system has been checked for energy efficiency. Three quarters (70%) of renters said they wanted to make their homes more energy efficient, but 43% couldn’t make improvements because they’re not responsible for the efficiency of their heating systems.

The report found upfront costs to be a major barrier for households, with just under one in three (31%) neglecting to adopt energy efficiency measures due to financial concerns. This was reflected in the business owner responses, with more than one in three (35%) claiming that the initial expense was the main barrier preventing them exploring energy efficiency.

The report also revealed that more than one in seven businesses (14%) have either never had a boiler service or haven’t had one in the last five years. One in five (20%) business owners haven’t had an energy efficiency check for more than five years (if at all).

Just under three quarters (74%) of UK business owners are interested in making their heating system energy efficient and more than half (51%) would consider improving the energy efficiency of their facilities to manage the challenges of the energy crisis.

Government subsidies would encourage a third (33%) of UK businesses to upgrade their heating system while just under a third (32%) would seek advice on how to improve energy efficiency via an energy audit.

Glynn Williams, UK country director at Grundfos, insisted that the clear gap between barriers and benefits to energy efficiency must be overcome.

“Whilst there is plenty that the government can and should be doing, particularly around regulation and enforcement of energy saving measures, there is clearly a large gap in knowledge that must be addressed,” he said. “We therefore call on the government to launch a public awareness campaign that will finally dispel the damaging myths around energy efficiency improvements and lead to the cost savings our households and businesses deserve.”

Rowlando Morgan, head of environment, infrastructure & local growth for CEBR, said the report underscored “a critical lack of awareness as a key barrier preventing the adoption of energy efficient measures”.

Joining the call for action, he added: “Our findings indicate that the UK government needs to action several new policies including providing clearer information on energy efficiency, targeting schemes to the poorest households and prioritising schemes to offset the upfront costs of installing new heating systems.”



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