A study of 5,005 UK adults has revealed the cost-of-living and energy crisis is completely reshaping our approach to sustainability and climate change.
The action most likely to be ranked as among the top three people think they should take to reduce their personal carbon emissions is to ‘use less energy at home’ (30% think so) – ahead of recycling correctly (29%), reducing food waste (26%) or driving an electric vehicle (17%).
Energy-saving light bulbs are the first step that most people have already taken to cut domestic energy use – two-thirds (66%) have installed them. But other energy-saving measures are catching up fast: around a third (34%) have installed additional cavity wall/loft insulation, while 30% have replaced their white goods and appliances with more energy-efficient models, e.g., with an A-rated energy label.
Many UK consumers appear prepared to invest more to keep their energy bills down – a by-product of which would be to reduce CO2 emissions. Almost half (46%) would consider installing triple glazing, a similar number (44%) say the same for solar panels for their homes, and more than a third (37%) would consider replacing their gas boiler with an air or ground source heat pump.
It also found that a third of respondents (35%) have family or friends who have installed additional cavity wall/loft insulation, a quarter (25%) know someone who’s put in solar panels, and one in ten (10%) have a friend or family member who’s installed a heat pump.
Nick Baker, chief research officer at Savanta said, “Insulation, heat pumps and solar panels may be at the top of the UK’s agenda this winter, but the behavioural change has little to do with eco-thinking or government education programmes.
“Rather, the sharply-rising cost of energy is forcing people to accelerate carbon cutting out of necessity, rather than virtue. Consumers are looking at ways they can save money on the back of the cost-of-living crisis. While the need to reduce domestic energy bills may be the driver, the outcome will be a net reduction in domestic CO2 emissions.”
The report went on to reveal that trust in governments to follow through on climate targets is slipping. A quarter (25%) don’t trust those in authority to do what’s right in general when it comes to sustainability, while only one in six (17%) say they have confidence in our ability to find solutions to the biggest problems currently facing the world.