Nearly 20% of UK residents think energy efficiency is “vital” when moving house

The Eco Experts

Moving home is one of life's most challenging moments, with countless things to remember and prepare for.

Amongst all these things, energy efficiency might not be at the top of the list. But for nearly 20% of UK residents, energy efficiency is absolutely vital when purchasing a home.

These findings came from a survey of 1,150 UK residents conducted by The Eco Experts as part of our annual National Home Energy Survey, which was released at the start of this month. Want to get the complete picture? Check out the report to find out more.

Someone looking at EPC

How many UK residents think energy efficiency is important?

17% of UK residents see energy efficiency as “vital” when thinking about buying a home.

In the wake of the ongoing energy crisis, this stat isn't too surprising. You could also argue however, that 17% is quite low considering the crisis!

An issue is that many homebuyers in the UK see “going green” as too expensive, a sentiment that seems to continue when it comes to making homes energy efficient. However, a study by Nationwide found that increasing a property’s efficiency only added around 1.7% to the total cost.

A further 42% of respondents would take a property’s energy efficiency “into consideration, but it wouldn’t be a deciding factor”. It’s clear then that for over 50% of UK residents, energy efficiency plays a big part in the homebuying process.

How is energy efficiency measured in the UK?

A property’s energy efficiency is given a rating on a scale from A to G, and this rating is known as an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). An EPC is a legal requirement for all buildings either sold, let, or constructed. A property’s EPC rating will be valid for 10 years, before it will need to be assessed again.

If you’ve made changes to your property (for example, installing solar panels), you can get a new EPC by requesting an assessment.

There are typically big swings in efficiency ratings between older and newer properties, with the former almost always being less efficient than new builds. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that on average new build properties (both flats and houses) averaged an EPC rating of B.

In contrast, the median energy efficiency for existing flats was C, and for properties it was D.

 

Breakdown by demographic

The survey revealed some interesting splits in the demographics for people who viewed energy efficiency as a vital part of buying a home. Here’s a breakdown of the demographics:

 

EPC rating importance by generations
GenerationIt’s vitalI’d take this into consideration but it wouldn’t be the the final deciding factorI’d look to see the current vs potential ratingI wouldn’t look to take this into considerationI wouldn’t know what this is
Gen Z (21–24)15%34%20%13%18%
Millennials (25–40)19%40%13%15%13%
Gen X (41–56)16%42%14%14%14%
Boomers (57–75)18%41%15%11%16%
Silent Generation (76–79)10%70%10%0%10%

 

Considering the importance Gen Z (21–24) puts on climate change and sustainability issues, it’s surprising to see them come fourth for EPC rating being a vital part of buying a home.

Gen Z having the lowest percentage of people to consider EPC ratings when buying a property is interesting too. Of course, you could look at this cynically and point to the slim chances the bulk of Gen Z have of buying a home, despite some optimistic predictions.

Also, Gen Z taking the top spot for “I wouldn’t know what this is” suggests a greater need to educate younger people about EPC ratings. Same for Boomers (57–75) really, who made up 16% of respondents saying they didn’t know what EPC ratings were. At their age, they’re in the bracket of people looking to buy bigger homes, or for some, second homes.

If we’re all to become more aware of the importance of energy efficiency, everyone should understand how efficient their home is or isn’t. Otherwise, how can you know how to make meaningful changes?

Implications for the property market

New build properties already have to stick to fairly rigid efficiency standards. That being said, more needs to be done to ensure properties are ready to adapt to carbon-free energy options.

These technologies are more expensive than energy options such as gas-powered boilers, at least for now. This will inevitably lead to rising costs for property developers.

So the real questions are whether the majority of UK homebuyers will be happy paying more, and whether or not the UK government will help spread the costs.

On the other hand, estate agents will be looking at this and salivating… at least a little bit. Home sellers looking to get more for their property will seriously consider improving its EPC rating. In turn, estate agents helping to sell the property will make more from the sale.

What is the average efficiency rating of a house in the UK?

According to government stats, the average UK home has an efficiency rating of D – a far cry from the efficiency UK homes need if the country is to move towards net zero.

An interesting stat is that the UK has more homes built before 1945 than any other EU nation. It’s difficult not to see this and make the connection with the poor average efficiency rating of UK properties. Here’s a breakdown of residential building by construction date:

Data sourced from ec.europe.eu

To find out more about EPCs, read our guide on Energy Performance Certificates, what they are, and why they matter.

 

How does this compare to the rest of Europe?

Generally speaking the energy efficiency of European housing stock is better than the UK’s (again, you can point to the chart above showing the UK has the highest percentage of homes built prior to 1945).

However, they’ve each created their own equivalents to the UK’s EPC. France, for example, uses the “Diagnostic de Performance Energétique” to measure a property’s energy efficiency, although this only came into effect from 2021 onwards.

Compare this to the UK, who introduced the EPC rating system in 2007. Because of this, we have loads of available data that makes finding the average efficiency of UK homes pretty simple.

It’s similar with Germany, who do actively measure the efficiency of residential properties, but don’t make the average EPC ratings of properties easily accessible.

Whichever way you look at it, there’s still plenty of room for improvement in the EU, if an estimate from the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) is to be believed. They claim that only 12% of residential properties in the EU have been renovated to meet climate change targets.

Summary

Our National Home Energy Survey makes it clear that the appetite for energy efficient homes is there. What remains to be seen is whether the property market can make this the basic requirement for all new homes moving forward.

The UK government has to play a leading role in this too, by making it easier and more affordable to build energy efficient homes and insulate older buildings.

When the next annual National Home Energy Survey comes out, it'll be very interesting to see how the importance of EPC ratings when purchasing a property measures up against this year's results.

To get the full data for the survey, please email .

Tom Gill Writer

Tom is a big fan of all things eco and has a passionate interest in how technology and localised projects can work together to make the world greener.

Back to Top