Published today to coincide with the official launch of the Green Deal, interim findings from the VERD project based at the University of East Anglia (UEA), suggest that energy efficiency is rarely the main motivating factor for people’s decisions to renovate their home.

The strongest factor in galvanising homeowners towards energy-efficiency measures was the need to improve domestic life. Households facing competing priorities, and those needing to extend or adapt space at home were more likely to consider renovations.

Up to a third of decisions to renovate were triggered by specific events, for example when something in the home needs fixing or replacing, such as a boiler or a window.

The research, based on interviews and a nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 UK homeowners, cited contractor reliability and the avoidance of hassle and disruption to family life as the key factors in deciding for renovation.

However, for homeowners already planning to renovate, the Green Deal was an attractive option. Those planning to spend £5,000 on insulation and a boiler upgrade were more than twice as likely to consider using the Green Deal than not.

In addition, the Green Deal could be used to expand the scope of homeowners’ renovation plans with people about to go ahead with renovations willing to consider additional energy efficiency renovations using the Green Deal to pay the upfront costs.

Co-leader of the research team Dr. George Chryssochoidis said: “The fundamental insight from this research is that home renovations have to be understood through the lens of normal, routine domestic life. Decisions to renovate are rooted in a need to improve the quality of life at home, rather than any burning desire to be energy efficient.

“Homeowners’ key concerns are keeping costs down, having a reliable contractor and avoiding hassle and disruption. Green Deal providers will need to present a strong and focused “value proposition” to renovators if we are to see significant take up of the Green Deal.”

Last December a survey from electrical supplies distributor Rexel revealed that just 17% of business owner respondents were aware that the Green Deal was also applicable to business. However, out of these businesses, 72% planned to make use of a Green Deal loan.

Conor McGlone

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