Energy efficiency measures haven’t always been on people’s home improvement ‘to do’ lists. Even just a few years ago, you could mention the idea of solar panels (whether photovoltaic or thermal) and the majority of people would give you a blank look, or maybe even tell you that they considered such things only for ‘alternative’ types who grew their own veg and knitted their own socks.

But in fact the last two or three decades of education about our impact on the environment, and perhaps also some of the government campaigns and programmes (many introduced to help drive the UK towards its 2020 carbon reduction commitments), have really had an impact on people’s awareness of energy efficiency measures and the need to implement them. Many people have invested in renewable technologies such as solar panels, heat pumps, and biomass heating, in addition to more familiar energy-saving improvements such as replacement windows and new boilers.

Research by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) has shown that energy efficiency is now a much greater concern amongst homeowners and tenants: 

  • Four of the top ten completed home improvements are related to energy efficiency (75% of those surveyed have installed energy efficient lightbulbs; 50% a replacement boiler; 40% loft insulation; 39% replacement windows or doors).
  • 46% of those surveyed have installed a solar electricity system (PV), and 54% plan to do so in future.
  • 26% of those surveyed have installed a solar hot water system, and 39% plan to do so in future.
  • 39% of those surveyed have installed a heat pump (either ground or air source), and 55% plan to do so in future.
  • 45% of those surveyed stated the driver behind their home improvements was “to make my home more energy efficient”
  • 43% of those surveyed tried to find out about the energy efficiency of home improvement products.
  • Aside from considerations such as location, size, garden, and off-street parking, the cost of energy bills was high on the list of respondents’ priorities when moving into a newly built home (>85%).

The best bit is the BRE’s report from this survey is online, and it’s dynamic – the survey is still running, and the statistics are updated as more and more people fill it in (at the time of writing, the figures were based on the responses of 2,200 people). It will be interesting to see how people’s attitudes to energy efficiency measures change as time goes by!