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Decarbonising homes: consumer attitudes towards energy efficiency and green heating in the UK

Building energy codes Heating Carbon emissions Consumer behaviour Emissions reduction Energy consumption Low energy housing Housing United Kingdom

Domestic energy use accounts for more than 21 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions each year. Whilst over the past decade UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen substantially, this has happened mainly without consumers noticing. However, the next steps towards net zero will mean much bigger changes for consumers.

To reach net zero by 2050, people will need to both reduce demand for heat, by making homes more energy efficient, and decarbonise it, by switching to renewable heating systems, such as electric heat pumps and solar thermal panels.

This report examines consumer attitudes about energy efficiency and green heating, exploring barriers to adoption as well as possible incentives that could be tested and implemented to achieve a zero-carbon Britain.

Key findings:

  • There is a huge value-action gap. Whilst 85 per cent of consumers agree that climate change is one of the most important issues that needs addressing, behaviours that are absolutely necessary to reducing carbon emissions are not being adopted fast enough nor at scale to meet the UK’s climate goals.
  • Consumers have positive perceptions about gas, and might need more persuasion about the benefits of electricity for heating and cooking. Over half of consumers associate gas with being easy to use (56 per cent), convenient (54 per cent) and reliable (50 per cent).
  • Consumers need more than financial incentives to make the switch. While cost is the biggest concern for 52 per cent of consumers, many don’t know where to start looking into energy efficiency measures.
  • The vast majority (83 per cent) of consumers say they are open to adopting energy efficiency measures: Research shows that consumers at different stages of the ‘adoption journey’ have different interests and face slightly different barriers to action – for example, those who are planning to make changes soon tend to be younger homeowners, while those who say they are not planning to make any changes are more likely to be retired, unemployed and renting their homes.
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