Public awareness and access to green skills is key in decarbonising the UK’s housing stock

Andrew Asaam is mortgage director at Lloyds Banking Group

In December, the UK government announced an additional £6 billion of funding to improve the energy efficiency of Britain’s homes, including £1.5 billion for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

While it’s a step in the right direction, the move only scratches the surface of the broader issue of making UK homes greener. Not only does the UK have some of the oldest houses in the world, but we also have the least insulated properties in Europe — with our homes accounting for 16% of the nation’s CO2 emissions and 35% of our total energy use.

As a result, a lot of people are worried about their energy output and bills, but many are unsure what energy efficiency measures to take. In fact, our consumer polling shows that only half (54%) know their home’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating.

To change this, as an industry we need to work collectively to raise awareness of the issue of home energy efficiency and provide homeowners with the support they need to make greener choices.

The greener alternatives

Alongside measures such as solar panels and insulation, the increased introduction of heat pumps is crucial to weaning the UK off its reliance on oil and gas and significantly reducing carbon emissions.

However, according to our research, only one in five homeowners (20%) would currently consider replacing their boiler with a heat pump to improve their property’s energy efficiency.

Compounding this, many homeowners don’t believe they have enough information to make the energy efficiency changes needed in their home — only about a quarter (28%) feel confident that they know what they need to make their property net zero ready by 2035.

As the UK’s biggest mortgage lender, we’ve helped millions of people become homeowners, and we recognise the crucial role we have in supporting our customers to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

That’s why we recently launched our Making Homes Greener initiative — a source of information and guidance on how we can help people improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This is an ongoing journey that will also see us trial new partnerships and practical and easy to use tools, such as our online Eco Home Energy Saving Tool, to provide homeowners with personalised plans for making green improvements and savings on their energy bills.

However, this alone is not enough. In the long-term, key players across the industry – from policy makers, to banks, to housebuilders – need to work collectively to drive change and raise awareness.

The need for raised awareness and green skills

The Government’s announcement of an additional £6 billion in funding will go some way to aid the journey to decarbonising our homes, but more desperately needs to be done. Key industry players must come together to raise awareness and help to make Britain’s homes greener.

There are a range of government support schemes available to help with the cost of energy efficiency improvements, but a third (36%) of homeowners aren’t aware of what’s available. Therefore, better signposting of the support, such as the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, to homeowners could go a long way in helping them to ‘green up’ their homes. This is even more important when we consider that 49% of homeowners cited the cost of retrofitting as the biggest barrier to making home energy improvements in our polling.

Similarly, when looking at the barriers facing homeowners, access to the right skills and tradespeople emerges as an issue. With a documented green-skills shortage across the UK – including a shortfall of 200,000 installation workers – there’s a significant skills gap to be reckoned with on the road to making our homes greener.

Organisations, like Regeneration Brainery, are so essential in addressing these damaging skills gaps. As an award-winning, not-for-profit academy, Regeneration Brainery gives young people the opportunity to kickstart their career in the property and regeneration industry, combatting their lack of hands-on experience with match-made mentoring, work experience placements, career talks, bootcamps and taster sessions.

With the crucial aim of ensuring the UK property sector has a well-trained and diverse future labour force, we are proud to be Regeneration Brainery’s headline sponsor. We must see greater support for these vital organisations if we’re to tackle the UK’s growing skills gap.

Making Britain’s homes greener

There are many positive impacts of green home initiatives — both for the environment and homeowner finances. Of the homeowners who undertake retrofitting projects to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, the vast majority also have a positive experience, with 96% reporting this to be the case in our polling.

However, to drive uptake and to help more homeowners feel empowered to make green home improvements, it’s essential that we see greater collaboration between key industry players to bridge information awareness and skills deficits.

These actions must be taken to drive progress and ensure that UK homes are net zero-ready.