Skip to main content

You are here

Cold, draughty, mouldy, damp: What the UK public think about their homes

Cold, draughty, mouldy, damp: What the UK public think about their homes Thursday, 7 August, 2014

New research tapping into the public’s energy saving attitudes and behaviours has been revealed by the Energy Saving Trust in the first of a series of public opinion trackers known as the UK Pulse.

The findings from the Ipsos MORI survey of over 2,000 UK respondents show nearly half of householders (44 per cent) claim to live in homes with draught problems, 37 per cent in homes with condensation problems and 28 per cent in homes with mould. All three issues were even higher among renters.

However, home owners with these problems are the most likely to be taking action with nearly a quarter of homeowners (24 per cent) living in draughty homes planning to install energy efficiency upgrades in the next year, compared with 12 per cent of homeowners overall.

Home renewables, such as solar panels, were considered to be the “ideal” energy efficiency improvement if money and hassle were no object, with most respondents putting this ahead of wall and loft insulation and draught excluders, despite often living in homes with draught problems.

Energy problems weren’t just restricted to issues with bricks and mortar. Nearly half (40 per cent) of those whose energy use feels out of control blame too many appliances in their home. Many households weren’t sure how much electricity their appliances use. For example, just 16 per cent were able to correctly identify the amount of money it costs the average UK home to run a fridge-freezer during a year , while just ten per cent knew how much it would cost to run an electric kettle .

The UK public’s reliance on home appliances was further highlighted by over half of all tumble dryer users in houses (54 per cent) using their tumble dryer at least once a week during the summer and an appetite for bigger TVs with over half (54 per cent) buying TVs in the past year which are 39 inches or over.

David Weatherall, energy efficiency expert, Energy Saving Trust, says:
“Our homes are in better shape than a decade ago. Millions of cavity walls have been insulated in recent years and virtually no totally uninsulated lofts remain.

“We’ve now got to address leaky homes, encourage more people with suitable homes to invest in renewables and LED lighting and get people thinking about how, when and where they use energy. The bottom line is home owners will benefit from improving their property’s energy performance.

“The research shows that living in cold, draughty and damp homes is a big motivator for people to take action and that renewable technology is the thing that most excites.

“If UK households are considering making energy saving improvements to their home then now is the time to take action in preparation for the winter months and colder temperatures.”

Other findings from the UK Pulse research showed:
• A divide between the genders with men preferring to install domestic renewables (28 per cent) but women opting for double-glazing as their number one measure for the home (22 per cent);
• Sixty per cent would be interested in installing a renewable energy system for their home if they received income and savings of between £750 and £1,500 a year, which is what many homes could expect through installing solar panels through the Feed-in Tariff scheme or renewable heat technologies, such as heat pumps, through the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI);
• Fifty-nine per cent said they would be more likely to consider buying or renting a home that have renewable energy systems installed compared to one that doesn’t (six per cent);
• Despite this broad interest in domestic renewables, 55 per cent were unable to correctly identify what the Feed-in Tariff scheme for solar panels is, while 83 per cent were unable to correctly identify the recently launched RHI;
• Over half (52 per cent) claimed to have at least one LED light bulb in their home and just seven per cent claimed to have had negative experiences with the technology.

Energy Saving Trust’s top five tips to take back control of energy in the home:
1. Turn it off: It’s important for households to be aware of unnecessary lights left on, and appliances left plugged-in or on standby. Nearly all electrical and electronic appliances can safely be turned off at the plug without upsetting their systems.

A typical household could save between £45 and £80 a year just by remembering to turn off appliances left on standby.

2. Stop the draughts: Unless a home is very new, it’s likely to be losing some heat through draughts around doors and windows, gaps around the floor, maybe up a chimney or two, and a whole host of other little holes around the house.

DIY draught proofing of windows, doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards could cost up to £200, but could save between £20 and 30 a year in a draughty home.

3. Lighten your load: Households can now get LED spotlights that are bright enough to replace halogens, as well as regular energy saving bulbs (‘compact fluorescent lamps’ or CFLs) for pretty much everything else. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and fittings.

If the average household replaced all their remaining old-fashioned bulbs with CFLs and all their halogens with LEDs it would cost around £110 and save around £45 a year.

4. Line-drying instead of tumble drying: Households can save on average £18 a year on their electricity bill by line drying clothes instead of using a tumble drying during the summer months.

5. Greater savings and income for renewable technology: While the Feed in tariff for electricity generating solar PV panels is going down, the cost of solar panels is also going down which means that now could be a great time to invest in solar PV. A typical 4kWP panel could generate and save households around £750 per year. Despite costs falling over the last year, they do vary between installers and system sizes (costs can be between £6,000 and £7,400), so we recommend getting quotes from at least three MCS accredited installers.

It’s also worth exploring renewable heating technologies, such as heat pumps, following the announcement of financial incentives through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Not only will households benefit from energy savings but they will also receive additional income for the energy produced.

Tips for dealing with damp, mould and condensation in the home:
Produce less moisture – Avoid letting too much steam from cooking and from the bathroom into other areas of the house (e.g. cover pans, close doors) and dry clothes outside when possible. Rather than installing a tumble dryer, a dedicated drying cupboard can provide a way to dry clothes inside while minimising condensation.

Ventilate – Keeping small windows ajar, or installing trickle vents on double glazed windows; ensure good ventilation when creating moisture (e.g. from cooking, bathing, washing, drying); leave space between backs of furniture and external walls; and ensure any insulation/draught proofing still allows ventilation to take place.

Insulate and draught proof – Install double glazing with trickle vents; insulate loft and cavity walls and draught-proof doors and windows to keep home warm. When the whole house is warmer condensation is less likely to form, this will also cut your fuel bills

For structural damp the source of water penetration needs to be located and repairs/maintenance made to stop this – e.g. re-plastering, filling cracks, renewing damp course. This might require a specialist surveyor, particularly for rising damp. Once you’ve tackled damp problems in walls of older homes and the walls have dried out, you can install wall insulation to either the inside or the outside of the walls.

Homeowners wanting more information about the UK Pulse and how to save energy in the home can visit http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/

Ends 7 August 2014

Typical Running Costs:
Typical running cost (£/year)
White goods
Fridge freezer
Dishwasher
Washing machine
Tumble dryer
£58
£40
£22
£53

Cooking
Kettle
£23

Based on a typical electricity tariff of 13.52p/kWh

About the Energy Saving Trust
Energy Saving Trust is a social enterprise group with a charitable Foundation.

Energy Saving Trust gives impartial, accurate and independent advice to households, communities and organisations on how to reduce carbon emissions, reduce fuel bills, use water more sustainably and drive smarter.

Energy Saving Trust works with governments, local authorities, communities, third sector organisations and businesses. Our activities include:
• delivering or managing government programmes
• testing low-carbon technology
• certification and assurance for businesses and consumer goods
• developing models and tools to gain further insight into energy efficiency.

www.energysavingtrust.org.uk