Climate change is a global crisis and a huge challenge we face, to manage and improve our planet and environment for the better.
At Savanta, we have been proud to support Nesta, an innovation foundation bringing ideas to life to change the world for the good, on one of their latest publications on this topic, by conducting research among over 5,000 UK adults: Decarbonising Homes: Consumer attitudes towards energy efficiency and green heating in the UK.
emotional and moral drivers appear key for making the change...
We used both Key Drivers Analysis and Maximum Differential Scaling, to determine the underlying barriers to change for people at various stages on the home energy efficiency journey, and for identifying the most motivating incentives to change.
Potentially unsurprisingly, our research showed that the vast majority of UK adults agree that “climate change is one of the most important issues that needs addressing” and that “everyone will have to adopt energy efficiency and green heating measures in their homes sooner or later”. These statements aren’t particularly controversial anymore.
But how is this translating into actions?
Well, three quarters (76%) are recycling more and over half have insulated their home in some way (54%) or are using energy efficient appliances and lighting at home (56%).
But this isn’t enough to meet UK government environmental targets and much larger scale changes are required.
As noted by Prof. Julia King, from the advisory Climate Change Committee, in a recent BBC article, “The challenge of heating buildings is a really huge one,”. “You have to persuade us to put up with disruption when we have a level of comfort we’re familiar with – and it’s not clear from the personal point of what the advantage of this new system is going to be”.
Indeed, we found that positive perceptions of gas lead in our research, especially among people aged 55 or over. Gas heating is seen as easy to use, convenient, reliable, and easy to control, much more so than electricity.
With this is mind, understanding the drivers and barriers to adopting more, larger-scale, home energy efficiency measures is essential to provide the insight for driving change.
Our research identified four key consumer groups: Not ready (17%), Getting ready (contemplation) (47%), Ready (preparing) (20%), and Action (15%).
Those at the start of the journey (not ready) are more likely to put-up with old appliances and only replace them when they stop working. They also want to avoid renovation work and are the most sceptical of the benefits of home energy efficiency measures.
As consumers progress on the journey of adopting home energy efficiency measures, issues such as knowing where to find information and reliable tradespeople drive concern (and barriers). Indeed, those ready for change are typically more likely to say that they like to keep up with the latest household style and décor trends and 55% strongly agree that everyone will have to adopt energy efficiency and green heating measures in their homes sooner or later.
Lastly, those who have adopted energy efficiency measures appear to be most driven by an intrinsic desire to have an energy efficient home and are willing to put time and effort into researching energy efficiency and green heating measures. They also think it’s important to show their environmental commitments to others, and these more emotional and moral drivers appear key for making the change.
While the most impactful incentives to change all centre around cost (such as grants and reductions in energy bills) appealing to our higher-level, environmentally conscious mindset is going to be key for driving action on a mass-scale.
Nesta’s full report – Decarbonising Homes: Consumer attitudes towards energy efficiency and green heating in the UK – is available to download free here.