Consumer interest in home energy efficiency and sustainability on the up

Elmhurst are pleased to see some new published research by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), called “Home Improvements – who, what and how?” The main headline is good news that consumer interest in home energy efficiency and sustainability is on the up.

The research was to assess what motivated people in regards to ‘home improvements’ and ‘new home purchase decisions’. The research was a nationwide survey of over 2000 households. It included details of the types and sizes of properties being improved, drivers for improvement, where people go for information and what they are looking for in their next home. It provides a valuable insight into people thoughts and aspirations in regards to their homes.

Elmhurst have broken this into the two main areas of study and give some headline analysis:

Home Improvements:

The research found that four of the ‘top ten’ most commonly completed home improvements were directly associated with energy efficiency. The number one home improvement was no surprise, in that it was general decoration (painting, plastering, tiling, etc.) with 89% of respondents claiming to have undertaken this in their property. The four associated to energy saving were; low energy efficient lighting (75%), boiler replacement (50%), loft insulation (40%) and replacing windows or doors (39%).

Renewable energy technologies were also assessed in the research and it indicated that  of those that undertaken any renewable energy work on their property that 46% had installed solar PV, 26% had installed solar hot water system and 20% had air source heat pumps installed.

Interestingly these were also the top three technologies for those planning installations, at 54%, 39% and 38% respectively.

It is also interesting reading that the ‘energy efficient’ planned upgrades did appear in peoples top ten list, but they were planned with lower levels e.g. boiler replacement was only planned by 13% and low energy lighting was only planned by 21%. This is probably because people generally only replace these items when they stop working.

The reasons why people undertake home improvements suggest that ‘energy efficiency’ is a top priority; of the 10 reasons given the top four are; to make my home more comfortable (67%), to make my home look nice (64%), to reduce my energy bills (45%), to make my home more energy efficient (45%). Three of these can be associated to energy efficiency.

New Homes:

The research also found that 73% of people surveyed would consider moving into a newly built home, with a staggering 84% of these putting ‘energy costs’ at the top of their list of priorities. Maintenance costs and ease of maintenance were the next highest, at 78% and 77% respectively, with high levels of natural light (62%), good air quality (42%) and use of sustainable materials in the build (33%) also featuring prominently.


Overall the research is a valuable insight into people behaviour in terms of improvement or changing homes. Energy efficiency is strongly represented in the reasons behind lots of improvements and is very important when choosing their next home. However it appears clear that the EPC and its recommendations are currently a low driver in terms of people undertaking improvements. This is something we have to learn from and in our opinion make the professional energy assessors out there become the ‘independent’ experts that we want them to be – offering a clear and better understanding of the options that are available to people. Effectively joining up the ‘requirements’ from the public, to the information contained in the EPC, so that they are converted into some clear actions.

At Elmhurst we have long campaigned for the use of the EPC and its recommendations being the only the starting position of saving people money, making their home warmer and saving carbon emissions. The reason the document (EPC) is created is to start to make the difference; the next step is in our opinion to offer people professional independent advice that can be relied on, so that motivated consumers act out and make the best changes to their homes.

For the full report see here:




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