Majority of period homeowners don't know how to cut their carbon footprint

More than three quarters of the UK’s period homeowners know they need to improve their properties to meet the Government’s zero carbon commitment – but half of them don't where to start, according to new research from Together.

Related topics:  Finance News
Rozi Jones
29th December 2021
country house residential detached
"More needs to be done to help those living in older houses understand what carbon neutral changes are feasible given their budgets."

Its survey found that 79% of British homeowners whose properties were built before 1900 are aware they will need to make changes to dramatically cut their home’s carbon footprint.

However, 57% of this group don’t know what improvements are needed to increase the energy efficiency of their historic homes, and a fifth (21%) were completely unaware of the need to adapt their properties.

The lender highlighted the 'awareness gap' following Government proposals to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy to meet net zero targets by 2050. In terms of housing, estimates suggest the drive for a net zero future will impact about five million of today’s period homeowners.

In addition, Together’s research shows the cost of making these properties carbon neutral have been greatly underestimated.

For example, 20% of period homeowners want to install a heat pump and are aware these can reduce a household’s carbon footprint by at least 2.5 tonnes of CO2 per year but the installation cost of £10,000 to £18,000 is a barrier for most. Experts say that period home owners considering fitting a ground source heat pump also have to fully insulate their property first – pushing up installation costs even higher.

However, Together’s survey found the average period homeowner would only be willing to spend just £5,480 in total on their sustainable home improvements.

Separate research has revealed the energy requirements of homes accounted for 21% of total CO2 emissions in 2020 and that the annual cost of retrofitting three quarters of homes built before 1900 would cost roughly £6.4billion by 2050, meaning the challenge to bring the UK’s historic housing stock will be significant.

Yet the pay-off in the long-run is clear. Retrofitting detached Victorian homes could reduce carbon emissions by up to 84%, 62% in a Georgian terrace, 58% in a 1900s terrace, 56% in a Victorian semi-detached and 54% in a Victorian terrace, according to Historic England.

Scott Clay from Together said: “Meeting the net zero target by 2050 and tackling climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face today.

“England has some of Europe’s oldest housing stock and is well-known for its high concentration of period homes, and while this is a gift for house-hunters and property investors, it can be a curse when thinking about carbon emissions.

“What’s clear from our survey is this glaring awareness gap between period property-owners who know there is a problem and those who know how to fix it. There is no overnight solution, but there are methods to help turn the tide. More needs to be done to help those living in older houses understand what carbon neutral changes are feasible given their budgets.

“Specialist lenders are a huge piece of making this puzzle a lot simpler, offering bespoke financial support to those with more complex properties and financial circumstances.”

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