The government’s net zero strategy is only resonating with the UK’s “energy elite”, with lower-income households lacking information and the resources to make their homes more energy efficient, argued Utilita Energy (Utilita) chief executive Bill Bullen.
The energy boss criticised the government following the publication of Utilita’s inaugural study – “The Household Behavioural Index”, which surveyed the habits and attitudes of 5,000 British energy users.
It revealed eight in ten households claim they are lacking clear advice from the government on how to make their homes more energy efficient.
Despite most households (71 per cent) wanting to cut their energy usage today, only two-fifths (43 per cent) plan to ‘spend to save’ as encouraged by the government.
Bullen said: “Our findings confirm this short-sighted ‘spend to save’ approach to energy efficiency is harming progress by leaving millions of households who can’t afford these technologies feeling disengaged and not part of the nation’s net zero journey.”
Households keeping purse-strings tight as crisis deepens
Utilita’s report revealed the average amount households are prepared to spend in the next 12 months is only £148 – while a third (31 per cent) of households said they would only like to see the free ways they can save.
The report also reveals that lower income households are the least energy-efficiency engaged, with only nine percent claiming to have received clear enough advice on ways to cut their energy wastage, compared to 47 per cent of higher income households.
By contrast, only one in five energy users declared their intention to purchase ‘big ticket’ items such as an electric vehicle, heat pump or solar technology.
Meanwhile, renters have also been left out in the cold with almost half (46 per cent) assuming they cannot make their own, or request any non‑essential changes, despite new legislation introduced in 2018 allowing tenants to make energy efficiency improvements.
Although the smart meter is central to the government’s plans to improve home energy engagement, over a third (38 per cent) of households do not have a smart meter, and almost half of those without a smart meter would refuse to buy one (45 per cent).
When asked why, the main objections were: ‘don’t need one’ (22 per cent), ‘not enough benefits’ (21 per cent), and ‘too intrusive’ (11 per cent).
Government finally unveils support package for energy users
Last month, the government unveiled its supply security strategy, which focused on ramping up renewable energy generation, North Sea oil and gas exploration, and heat pump investments to reduce the UK’s reliance on overseas suppliers and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Since then, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a £15bn support package that could save households up to £1200 per year.
This follows warnings from Ofgem that household energy bills could spike to £2,800 per year in October – with wholesale costs spiralling following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Energy bills have already risen a painful 54 per cent to nearly £2,000 per year last month.
However, there has been minimal commitments to energy efficiency measures, including behavioural changes.
Good Energy boss Nigel Pocklington told City A.M. that energy efficiency remains a “glaring hole” in the government’s strategy for dealing with the current crisis.
He said: “If we could do something about the UK’s high level of energy inefficiency, you could make a lasting impact on bills every year, not just as a one off.