Over 65s are significantly more likely to live in energy inefficient homes, according to a new study by Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, in partnership with economics consultancy Cebr*.
This is leading to them paying £611 more per year on average for their energy bills compared to under 30s, based on the Government’s current £2,500 Energy Price Guarantee level. If the Government goes ahead with its planned increase in the Energy Price Guarantee level to £3,000 from April, this would increase to £713 per year.
The study found that nearly two thirds (62%) of over 65s live in inefficient properties (EPC ‘D’ or below), compared to less than half (48%) of under 30s. Over 65s are more likely to live in older properties than younger generations, which are on average less energy efficient than newer builds. They are also more likely to live in detached houses, which are typically less energy efficient than flats or terraced houses.
Across all age groups, the gap in average annual bills between households living in efficient homes (at or above the Government’s target EPC ‘C’ rating) and inefficient homes (EPC ‘D’ or below) is currently £448 per year. This would rise to £614/yr if the Government increases its Energy Price Guarantee level to £3,000 from April.
A separate survey by Kingfisher of 3,000 UK adults2 found that 1 in 10 pensioners plan to downsize in the next two years, with 49% citing reduced energy bills as a reason for their decision. At the other end of the age spectrum, 34% of 18-24 year olds say they would consider moving in with family or friends due to rising energy bills, 45% of them back in with parents. 77% of Brits of all ages who moved in with friends or family in the past year said rising energy bills factored into their decision.
As we emerge from winter, 81% of Brits say they are worried about the planned rise in the Energy Price Guarantee level. The energy efficiency of homes is becoming increasingly important to Brits, with 64% saying it would be more of a priority when moving home than 12 months ago.
Over half (54%) say they plan to make energy efficiency improvements in their homes in the coming year, with the most popular measures being energy efficient lighting, smart meters and draught proofing. However, despite pensioners being more likely to live in inefficient homes, they are the least likely to be planning improvements, with just a third (35%) expecting to do so in the next year.
Overall, Brits underestimate the scale of savings they could achieve through energy efficiency measures, estimating they could save an average £222 per year through upgrades, whereas in reality moving from EPC D (the UK average) to EPC C would save an estimated £450 per year based on current pricing.
Thierry Garnier, Kingfisher CEO, said: “UK homes are among the least energy-efficient in Europe and that is making energy bills even more expensive for too many households when prices are already at record highs. Our research found that it is older generations who are most likely to live in inefficient homes, meaning some of the most vulnerable people in society are the most exposed to higher costs.
“While prices are expected to fall slightly in the summer, that is not a reason to delay taking action to improve energy efficiency. Based on our experience working with governments in eight countries across Europe, we are proposing five practical policies that we believe would make a difference.
“In the short term, we’d like to see a concerted Government drive ahead of next winter to support the public to insulate the 5 million+ lofts in the UK that are uninsulated and easy to access, as well as a cut in VAT to zero on all efficiency products. In the longer term, more grants are needed to fund improvements for those on lower incomes, alongside investment in building the skills base we need to install efficiency measures at scale. Otherwise, the UK will continue to lag behind on energy efficiency.”
To address the UK’s energy efficiency challenge, Kingfisher is proposing the following five policy ideas for Government:
- Introduce a time-limited Government-funded scheme ahead of next winter to support the public to insulate the 5 million+ lofts that are uninsulated and easy to access. Follow this with a new grant funding scheme for those on lower incomes to fund the installation of energy efficiency measures similar to the MaPrimeRénov scheme in France, alongside interest free or low interest loans for those more able to pay, like those offered in Germany.
- Support self-installed energy efficiency improvements by temporarily cutting VAT to zero on all energy efficiency products, including insulation and draught proofing, not only those installed by tradespeople.
- Reduce Stamp Duty for homebuyers who buy more energy efficient properties or install additional energy efficiency measures in the two years after they buy a new home, when motivation to make bigger renovation changes to a property is highest.
- Improve the EPC-rating scheme and then introduce a specific, transparently tracked measure for the number of energy efficiency installations and improvement of homes to EPC band C, to get UK homes to maximum efficiency as soon as possible.
- Increase funding for trade apprenticeships to help tradespeople take on more apprentices, building the skills base needed to install and maintain energy efficiency measures at scale.
Kingfisher’s businesses have been working for many years to support customers to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. In the UK, B&Q and Screwfix offer a wide range of affordably priced energy efficiency products such as insulation, draught proofing, LED lightbulbs, smart thermostats and energy-saving appliances, with Screwfix also selling heat pumps and solar panels.
Last year B&Q launched a free one-stop Energy Saving Service, designed to demystify the complexity of energy efficiency, help customers create a personalised action plan and then connect them to the products and services they need to improve their homes.
To support colleagues to reduce their energy bills, Kingfisher last year introduced an enhanced 30% colleague discount for B&Q, Screwfix and Kingfisher colleagues on more than 700 energy-saving products.
*Cebr analysis of ONS English Housing Survey and Family Spending Workbook data