High energy costs stifling uptake of low carbon technology

A national survey has revealed that the energy crisis is stifling people’s green technology aspirations.

Survey finds only half of Brits have heard of heat pumps!

The survey of 2,000 Brits conducted by consumer-focussed Eco Experts as part of their National Home Energy Survey 2023, showed that in the past 12 months, rising energy prices have made 43% of the public less likely to purchase low-carbon technology

Upfront costs outweigh potential savings

The survey also found that low carbon technology uptake is impacted significantly by cost. Once people reach a certain earnings threshold, heat pumps, solar panels and other green energy options seem to be more viable. 38% of people earning over 200K purchased solar panels in the last 12 months (vs just 7% of people on £40-70k) and 50% of people earning over £200k bought an electric vehicle (vs just 8% of those earning £40-70K).

When the financial consideration is removed, 51% of respondents said they would buy solar panels – compared to just 5% who actually did – and a quarter said they would buy a heat pump (24%), compared to only 3% who did. 

With high costs of living over the past year and no sign of relief, Brits are avoiding green technology investments due to a high initial cost and current financial concerns. The crises had the biggest impact on households earning between £40,000 and £150,000, with lower income groups unable to afford low carbon solutions such as heat pumps, and wealthier households not as desperate to reduce energy costs.

With solar panels saving an average £608 a year on bills, electric vehicles costing roughly half the price of petrol vehicles to run per mile and smart appliances potentially saving consumers £450 per year, it seems once again there are savings to be had, but only if you can afford to invest in them.

Only half of Brits have heard of a heat pump!

Although the government does offer a £5,000 grant to support heat pump installation in UK homes, a shocking 73% of those surveyed were unaware of the grant being in place. Even more shocking was the survey’s findings that half of those surveyed were unaware of heat pumps – a figure that has fallen since last year’s survey despite the launch of the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

The older those surveyed were, the more aware they were of heat pumps but less likely to buy one and heat pumps remain too expensive for most people with three quarters of respondents who had bought a heat pump over the past year earning a household income over £100,000.

Whilst 49% of respondents admitted making energy efficient measures in their home due to climate change concerns, the majority of eco-friendly behaviour was driven by the cost-of-living crisis; with 81% of respondents admitting to reducing their heating usage, turning off lights or using energy saving bulbs and to cope with rising energy bills.

Happy to adopt

Almost 7 in 10 Brits would now buy a home that has solar panels on its roof, a figure that has increased since last year’s survey, indicating domestic solar panels are growing in popularity. And, with less than 1 in 10 saying they were unlikely to buy a solar-powered home, its popularity is nearly universal.

While happy to purchase a home with already-installed low carbon solutions it seems Brits are also happy to invest in lower-cost options with nearly half of those surveyed having bought low carbon solutions in the past year. By far the most popular options were smart meters (25%) and smart appliances (22%) with electric vehicles (7%) and solar panels (5%) still outperforming heat pumps at just 2% due to their high upfront costs and a lack of awareness.

Josh Jackman, from theecoexperts.co.uk commented: “Our survey shows the appetite for green energy is there, but the cost-of-living crisis is making it impossible for people to make the changes they want to.

“It’s upsetting that household changes have overwhelmingly been minor alterations made spurred by a desperate needing to cut costs, as people are unable to make larger green purchases that would make a real difference to their wallet and the climate.”