Research conducted by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and others has shown that people don't always objectively weigh up the costs and benefits of investing time and money into making their homes more energy efficient. Although many people are concerned about the environment, this does not always translate into taking practical steps to reduce their energy consumption.
One of the barriers to making energy efficiency improvements relates to the fact that the benefits are accumulated over a long period of time, whereas the costs associated with them are immediate and sometimes significant. People can often have a leaning to ‘discount the future’, in that they may prefer a smaller reward today over a larger reward in the future.
Our research in fact shows that around 40% of people would take the energy performance of homes into account when purchasing or renting a new home, and would want a home that is environmentally-friendly. However, only a relatively small proportion (16%) would pay more to achieve this – i.e. more people ‘discount the future’ when it comes to energy efficiency.
However, our research shows that the majority of UK homeowners and renters would want a home that does not impact on their health and wellbeing; and in contrast to energy efficiency, significantly more, almost 30% would pay more in order to achieve this.
People in general may not be so prepared to ‘discount the future’ when it comes to their comfort, health and wellbeing. Perhaps investment in improving homes would be much better approached if we quantify and communicate the benefits this can have on people’s comfort, health and wellbeing.