European citizens would be willing to carry out energy renovation in their homes in order to increase their thermal comfort, pay less in energy bills and improve their quality of living. However, most of them are held back by the perceived financial investments to be made (1) as well as by the hassle of organising the renovation works.
This is in a nutshell what is revealed in a new study (2) conducted by IPSOS and commissioned by the European Climate Foundation to better understand citizens’ motivations and barriers to to carry out energy renovation in their homes.
Carried out with home owners and tenants in five European countries – Bulgaria, France, Germany, Poland and Spain (3) – this study offers EU and national decision makers an opportunity to better understand and hear European citizens’ concerns around health and social equity related to the renovation of their homes.
More than 97% of Europe’s building stock must be upgraded to achieve the 2050 decarbonisation vision. This calls for not only EU and national policies to accelerate investments in energy efficiency but also minimum energy efficiency requirements for existing buildings.
- Thermal comfort, saving money and a healthy environment are the main motivations to carry out energy efficient renovations across all countries.
- For all countries there is one main barrier: Money. Renovations require substantial investments and not everyone can afford it. Too much hassle is also holding citizens back, but to a lesser extent. Renovations always bring a lot of hassle: getting legal permission, coming to an agreement with other households living in the same building, finding a reliable contractor, possibly moving out of the home, dirt and mess are all barriers when considering home renovation. A third factor is a lack of procedural awareness when it comes to legal aspects and state funding.
- Women score higher on environmental motivations related to climate change and outdoor air quality, while they are also the ones who are more often held back by the investments to be made to make renovations. Men on the other hand like their houses to be equipped with the latest technology and like to experiment with this.
- Citizens living in cities more often do not make renovations because of the hassle and a lack of awareness on options and state funding. When they do, their main motivation is to reduce noise. Those who live in rural areas, on the other hand, are more often motivated to make renovations because others do it, to make their houses look better and because they want their houses to be equipped with the latest technology.
- Citizens who own a house are more motivated in general. The same applies for higher income households and households with children, while those within the age of 18-34, who lack money to finance renovations, are also more skeptical about whether it will actually result in energy saving or protect the environment.
- Politically left oriented citizens are more often triggered by environmental motivations, while politically right oriented citizens are more likely to renovate because they like to have the latest technology and want to improve the looks of their house.
- Number of respondents who said they made energy efficient renovations differs per country (4). Insulation and window glazing are most often carried out. Bulgaria (87%) ranks first in terms of respondents who made energy efficient renovations, followed by Poland (69%), Spain (58%), France (49%) and Germany (41%). It is also worth highlighting that the countries where the most renovations are made also have the highest percentage of home owners.
- The awareness and knowledge of ‘highly energy efficient homes’, ‘energy neutral homes’ or ‘passive homes’ differ per country. While in Germany, energy efficiency is a popular topic, the Spaniards and Bulgarians show a certain understanding of the different concepts. The French and the Poles, however, have a very low awareness of the terms “zero emission” or “neutral house”.
The results are based on 2-4 focus group discussions per country in August 2018 and an online survey with a nationally representative sample of 1000 citizens in each country (2000 in Germany) in November 2018.
Oliver Rapf, Executive Director of BPIE, the Buildings Performance Institute Europe:
“This survey shows that people put a high value on the quality and comfort of their home and that they are willing to invest. But they are held back because they are uncertain how to finance renovation activities and are concerned about affordability and risks. These concerns need to be tackled with the development of financial instruments designed for specific groups of owners and tenants as well as effective public engagement strategies. National governments should give this much more thought as they develop their renovation strategies and should use the support from the EU for that purpose.”
Vijoleta Gordeljevic, Health and Climate Change Coordinator and Focal Point for Healthy Buildings and Energy Poverty at HEAL, the Health and Environment Alliance:
“This study confirms that people know that the quality of their homes impacts their health and well-being. Renovating homes for greater energy efficiency can benefit the physical and mental health of millions of Europeans if combined with ambitious aspirations for better indoor air quality and standards for thermal comfort and non-toxic building products. For those most in need affordability is key! It is therefore government’s role now to grant this opportunity to all, not the just the few.”
Adrian Joyce, Renovate Europe Campaign Manager:
“This IPSOS Study casts light on one of the most critical factors that we face in trying to upscale ambitious energy renovation of buildings across the EU – what motivates people to take action? For me, it was interesting to see that the overall awareness of what a low- or nearly zero-energy building means is still pretty poor across the EU. On the other hand it was encouraging to see that better comfort, savings and the environment are the main motivating factors as we realised some time ago that these were likely to be more motivating than the pure economics of energy renovation. We shall certainly consider the findings very carefully in preparing future messaging as part of our Renovate Europe Campaign!”
Notes to the editors:
- It is important to note that this survey tests perceptions and is not a measure of reality. Sometimes, state financial incentives or support schemes to help citizens with the energy renovation in their homes do exist but citizens are not aware about them. It is however key to better understand public perceptions and address those perceptions through a range of consumer outreach and education as well as changing the policy environment.
- These 5 countries all represent diverse socio-economic, geographical and cultural characteristics and have been selected to demonstrate the differences across various European contexts.