Survey highlights that households are increasingly enticed by energy efficiency improvements as their energy bills skyrocket

Soaring energy bills driven by the gas price crisis are making investments in household energy efficiency more enticing for households in the UK, new polling has suggested.

A survey published this morning by building society Nationwide has found that eight in 10 people are now more inclined to improve their home’s energy efficiency than they were six months ago.

The analysis also notes that people said they would consider making their homes greener if energy bills were to increase by an average of £45 per month, £11 less than the £56 average cited by respondents to the same question last July.

In the wake of record international gas prices, the UK’s energy price cap is set to rise by 54 per cent from April by £693, meaning that energy bills for those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will pay on average £57 more a month.

Nationwide’s research also highlights how there is widespread confusion among the public about how best to make a home more efficient, with 42 per cent of households surveyed saying they want to improve the performance of their home but have not started the process or do not know where to begin.

“Ensuring our homes are better insulated and powered by cleaner energy is one of the best ways to protect against rising fuel prices,” said Claire Tracey, chief strategy and sustainability officer at Nationwide. “Our research tells us people want to make green home improvements to lower their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint. But they need support.”

More than two thirds of respondents said some form of government grant would help them cover the costs, while more than half said they would be encouraged to take action if they had access to a “one-stop shop” providing impartial advice and a green skills register for skilled tradespeople.

The government does provide funding to help upgrade fuel poor homes through the Energy Company Obligation scheme and is poised to launch a new Clean Hesat Grant scheme to help fund some of the cost of green heating technologies such as heat pumps.

However, the government controversially axed its high profile Green Homes Grant scheme and campaigners have long argued that the current level of funding support and incentives for home upgrades remains badly underpowered.

As such Nationwide is working with the Green Homes Action Group of businesses and charities to push for a national retrofitting programme that would make homes less cold, emissions intensive, and expensive to heat in response to the gas price crisis.

Tracey said the government should introduce a programme which had the “full commitment of government and business” and was “fairly financed”.

“As consumers brace themselves for higher energy prices, the time to act to make our homes more energy efficient is now,” she said. “We stand ready to support and to work with others, in the spirit of mutuality, to help ensure that no household is left behind.”

Government statistics estimate that 19 million of the UK’s 29 million homes have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of Band D or below. It has pledged for all homes to reach an energy rating of Band C and above by 2035, but there are growing fears this target will not be met without a dedicated effort to rapidly accelerate the build out of energy efficiency improvements through grants for households and an accompanying skills programmes for installers.

The survey came on the same day as the CEO of the Climate Change Committee, Chris Stark, reiterated his calls for the government to strengthen its domestic energy efficiency policies.

He told the BBC that the government’s policy on insulation is currently “very poor”, adding that Ministers need to provide “a sharper incentive for most people to make these investments in improving the energy efficiency of the home that they live in”.

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