New research shows that Brits don’t understand the importance of lowering their household emissions

New research shows that Brits don’t understand the importance of lowering their household emissions

By: Shell Energy

19 Jul 2021

Many British adults don’t understand the part their homes play in global carbon emissions, and how much they could do to make their homes more efficient. Many Brits are only open to making changes to their home if it can save them money.

These are the findings from new research accompanying the net-zero report that we commissioned from Energy Systems Catapult (ESC). The research highlights the challenges and potential solutions to reducing home carbon emissions, which we need to do if we’re going to meet the UK government’s 2050 target of becoming net-zero.

Many people don’t understand home energy efficiency

Carbon from homes accounts for up to 40% of UK emissions. But almost half of UK adults don’t know that turning down the heating reduces a home’s carbon emissions.

Also, 35% don’t know that insulation can make a home more environmentally friendly, while 72% don’t realise that smart thermostats can make a home more energy efficient.

Overall, just 17% of Brits feel they know a lot about energy efficiency – with 30% admitting they have no idea how energy efficient their home is.

Homes Account for up to 40% of the Uk's CO2 emissions

The challenge of the UK’s older homes

The UK has a lot of older houses, which may look very charming, but this older, inefficient housing stock is a key challenge when it comes to reducing household carbon emissions.

UK homes lose heat up to three times faster than houses in Norway, Austria or Switzerland, says the report. Some six million UK homes are more than 100 years old. And around 20% of homes in the UK built before 1919 are in conservation areas. That means it’s hard to make energy efficiency improvements, such as adding double glazing, because houses must comply with strict rules governing their appearance.

It seems the public is on board with these rules: Less than a quarter of UK adults think these homes should have to be brought up to modern efficiency standards.

Energy efficiency not a high priority for UK homeowners

Brits seem to consider home energy efficiency a fairly low priority. When asked how important they considered their property’s energy efficiency rating when they bought it, most placed it at the bottom of a list of 14 considerations. Just 12% said they gave it any thought. More important factors included ‘How nice the neighbours were’ (16%) and ‘potential to expand’ (14%). Yet when it came to choosing a car efficiency came second (40%) only to price as the most important consideration.

All homes being sold have an EPC rating for efficiency. This is always clearly highlighted on listings, but only 25% of buyers say they checked the rating when they bought their home. Even fewer (21%) say they asked questions about efficiency during the buying process.

Among those who say they’ve changed their home to make it more energy efficient, most say they did so to benefit financially – either by saving money on their bills, or making their home more attractive to sell. Just 28% said it was to benefit the environment.

The UK’s journey to net-zero carbon emissions


“Making homes more energy efficient is a big challenge for Britain's journey to net-zero carbon emissions, but it’s an important part of the transition to lower-carbon heating options. The first stage is education and helping people understand the role and importance of energy efficiency. But many will also need support with the cost, especially for the least efficient homes. We’d like to see existing government schemes extended with more funding for improvements to social housing, minimum efficiency requirements for landlords, and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and Warm Home Discount schemes extended to ensure all energy companies are included and more homes are supported.”

Ed Kamm

CEO Shell Energy

Making changes to UK homes is key to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We’re investing £25m a year to fund home-improvement schemes for eligible householders, through a partnership with My Eco Home. Visit the website to see if you’re eligible for support to improve your home’s insulation and efficiency.


How can you increase energy efficiency in your home?

Here are five ways you can improve your home’s energy efficiency:

Insulate your home

If your home is badly insulated, your heating system has to work harder – and use more energy. Uninsulated homes can lose up to a quarter of their heat through the roof. Insulating your roof yourself, using mineral wool insulation, costs around £300, but could save you up to £150 on your annual energy bill.

Add draught-proofing

One of the most cost effective ways to make a home more energy efficient is to plug gaps in doors and windows to stop heat escaping. This is easy to do with draught-seal tape and can save around £20 on your annual bill.

Fit double glazing

Upgrading doors and windows is no small task, but the most energy efficient double glazing can save around £85 a year on a typical energy bill.

Get a smart meter and a smart thermostat


Smart meters and thermostats give homeowners a better understanding of their energy habits. This helps them make their home more efficient. Smart thermostats can learn your heating habits and turn your heating off when you’re not home. Smart meters, meanwhile, help you see how much energy you’re using in real-time. If you haven’t already got one, we’ll install your smart meter at no extra cost

Invest in LED lighting


Lighting accounts for around 15% of your electricity bill. Swapping traditional light bulbs for LED bulbs can cut £75 from your annual electricity bill. LED bulbs use 80% less energy than halogen bulbs and last up to five times longer.

The Shell Energy shop offers a wide range of products to make your home more energy efficient, including smart thermostats and LED lighting.

You can read more about the path to net-zero carbon emission homes or download the full report for more information.


Statistics from Shell Energy research conducted by Opinium among 3,001 British adults between 19-25 February 2021. Content taken from the report conducted by Energy Systems Catapult, commissioned by Shell Energy. Report conducted between October 2020 and March 2021.