Solar Power Facts From The Eco Experts 2012 UK Energy Price Survey
We at The Eco Experts wanted to find out more about how people in the UK view rising energy prices, solar panels and energy efficiency. We talk about these topics every day, but what does the average man or woman on the streets think about them? Our survey yielded some expected and some not so expected results.
1. Do you think we should try to make the world a better place to live for future generations?
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people (96%) think that we should try and make the world a better place for future generations. Not sure what that says about the other 4%!
Key Fact: Most people want the best for future generations.
2. Are you worried about rising energy prices?
A little more surprising was that almost as many people (92.1%) are worried about rising energy prices. Interestingly, about half of the 114 people who claim not to be worried about rising energy prices have household incomes below £25,000 per year. Moreover, half of all households in our survey who earn more than £150,000 a year are still worried about the rising price of energy.
Key Fact: Even the richest households in Britain are worried about rising energy prices.
3. Could you afford a sudden 30% increase in your energy bill?
Roughly 2/3rds of people claim they could not afford a sudden 30% increase in their energy bills. A further quarter claim they could do so only with some difficulty. Only 3.9% of respondents claim they afford the increase easily - fewer than those who claim not to be worried about rising energy prices. Even among households earning more than £75,000 a year 1/3rd claim they could not afford the increase. Nearly 20% of the poorest households claim they could afford the increase, either easily or with some difficulty.
Key Fact: A sudden 30% increase in energy prices would be beyond the budget of most people surveyed.
4. How much do you think a 'typical' home solar installation costs?
About 1/3rd of people correctly identify the price of a typical home solar installation at between £4,000 and £8,000. Rather impressive given that only 2.5% of respondents indicate they have already installed solar panels. About as many overestimate the cost as underestimate it, so it may be a case of respondents simply picking the middle option.
Interestingly the two extreme income groups do worse than average at identifying the correct price. Yet, those who earn the least tend to underestimate the cost (41.1% underestimate vs. 27.9% who overestimate), while those who earn the most (over £75k PA) tend to overestimate the cost (23.8% underestimating vs. 47.6% overestimating).
Key Fact: The majority of people aren't sure how much solar panels cost.
5. If you haven't installed solar panels, what is holding you back?
By far the biggest reason why people haven't yet installed solar panels has to do with cost. The other major reason being that people live in flats/don't own their own home or have roofs that are not suitable for solar. The good news is that 2.5% of respondents already have installed solar. 34.5% of the highest income earners still think they are too expensive – despite tending to overestimate the cost in the previous question.
The exact same proportion of people earning under £25k think they were too expensive despite underestimating the cost. 48.7% of people who overestimate the cost assume they are too expensive. Only 30% of respondents who underestimate the price cite cost as their biggest concern. So it looks as though the solar industry still has its work cut out to make sure people are aware of the accurate price.
Key Fact: Even with steeply falling prices, solar power is still perceived as being too expensive.
6. Did you know you can earn up to £1,000 a year by generating your own renewable energy?
It seems that, not only is the solar industry failing to keep people up-to-date on prices, but there also isn't widespread knowledge about how much you can earn and save with solar. Only 36.6% of people know you can earn and save up to £1,000 a year with solar. Again those citing cost as the major concern seem to be slightly less aware (1/3rd) of the fact you can earn and save up to £1,000 a year.
Key Fact: Not only is solar viewed as being expensive but few people seem to be aware of Government programs such at the Feed-in Tariff.
7. Would you install solar panels if there was no upfront cost?
Overall, a strong majority of people would consider installing solar panels with no upfront cost, with only 18.1% rejecting them outright. Interestingly among those who cite cost as their number one concern only 7.7% would definitely not consider solar panels if there was no upfront cost. This means solar loans may have some legs, among more cost conscious consumers.
Key Fact: People are interested in innovative ways to pay for solar power.
8. Did you know you can get loans for solar panels?
Although, a plurality of people would definitely consider getting solar panels with no upfront cost, the majority of people still do not know about solar loans. Despite being more positive about solar panels with no upfront cost - those citing cost - were less aware than the survey average that this product exists. Similarly among people who say they would definitely consider solar panels with no upfront cost - knowledge is lower than average (only 27.5% say they know about solar loans).
Key Fact: Solar loans remain a relatively unknown product.
9. Would you improve your home's energy efficiency rating if there was no upfront cost?
While solar panels would be a popular choice if they came with no upfront cost, energy efficiency is even more popular. 61.7% of people would improve their home's energy efficiency with no upfront cost, with only 10.6% of people saying they definitely wouldn't (perhaps they are worried about some sort of catch?).
Interestingly 26.7% of people who would definitely not consider solar panels with no upfront cost would consider improving their home's energy efficiency under the same circumstances. Still 43% of people who would refuse solar panels with no upfront cost are also disposed to reject energy efficiency. More bizarrely still, 12.3% of people who reject home efficiency at no upfront cost outright would definitely consider solar panels.
Key Fact: People are really keen to upgrade their home's energy efficiency.
10. Have you heard of the Green Deal?
Unfortunately, among those who say they would definitely consider improving their home's energy efficiency a slightly larger percentage remains unaware of the Green Deal and a slightly smaller percentage are aware of it. (78.1% unaware vs. just 13.7% who are aware). Overall knowledge of the Green Deal remains very low, which means the Government, has an uphill battle, despite the underlying idea being incredibly popular.
Key Fact: People overwhelmingly have no idea what the Green Deal is.
The survey was conducted online between August 3rd and 6th 2012 and included 1994 responses from people living in various regions of the UK. About 2/3rds or our respondents were woman from a variety of different backgrounds. By far the largest group were those from households earning less than £25,000 per year, although we did get 10 responses from households claiming to earn more than £150,000. In terms of ages the vast majority were over 18, with the largest group comprising 34-54 year olds.
Given the diversity of respondents based on age, gender, location and income we think the survey is an accurate portrayal of sentiments towards energy prices, renewable energy and home energy efficiency in the UK.