Home truths: The challenge and experience of making home energy improvements

Home truths: The challenge and experience of making home energy improvements 1.33 MB

In 2019 the UK government announced a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve this, people will need to make big changes to their homes. 

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) estimates that around 15 million homes will need to install new insulation measures and all homes will need to use low carbon heating technologies such as heat pumps, hydrogen or be connected to a heat network. 

It’s vital that people have a good experience when it comes to choosing, installing and using these technologies. A poor experience, or indeed hearing about a bad experience, could put people off from making much needed changes to their homes. 

In this report, we’ve looked at three years of contacts to our Consumer Service from people who need help when it comes to installing low carbon technologies or making energy efficiency improvements to their homes. 

The Consumer Service provides phone and web-based personalised advice to people on all consumer issues. People can get advice about their consumer rights and guidance about how to complain about a service or product.

Our data gives us a unique insight into the problems people face. It helps us to record and understand people's experiences - including their questions, concerns, problems and frustrations.

We know that people are confused and face numerous problems at different stages along the customer journey. This is not only a concern for the people affected - if left to continue, it could fundamentally derail the government's plans to improve energy efficiency and decarbonise heat in homes.

Extra statutory consumer protections exist for people when they take out a supply contract with an energy provider. But, no extra protections currently exist for consumers when they want to install insulation or new home technologies. This is despite the potential financial outlay and consumer detriment being much greater. 

That’s why we’ve been calling for the government to improve how consumers are informed, supported and protected in making changes to their homes by introducing a net zero homes guarantee. This would be a scheme focused on giving people confidence to install low carbon heating and energy efficiency measures. We need to make it easier for people to make informed decisions. This must include simple, enforceable protections so people can confidently engage with these new technologies.

Reaching the net zero target will require people to make changes to their homes. Some of these changes will be complicated and expensive. We need to equip people with the information and support needed to make this process easier.

If we don't tackle the current gaps identified in this report, we risk setting back the aims of a green recovery and the opportunity to truly create a fair energy transition that meets the needs of everyone, whilst also achieving the government’s net zero target.