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Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

YouGen press release

Growing Enthusiasm to Keep Homes Warm With Renewable Heat

Posted on 6 April 2011 at 11:22 am

Launched in the week that the Government announced more detail about the Renewable Heat Incentive, a survey by YouGen found that if home owners boilers broke down tomorrow, 85 per cent of them would consider a renewable alternative.

“I was surprised, and encouraged, that so many people said they would consider renewable heat options,” said Cathy Debenham, founder of YouGen. “Their interest was spread quite evenly across the technologies, with solar hot water, and air source heat pumps the most popular (45 per cent and 35 per cent would consider them, respectively). This makes sense, as they are the most affordable technologies at the moment.”

The survey found that while most people (82 per cent) had heard about the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, understanding of it varied enormously. Almost a third of respondents said they were a bit vague. Just over a quarter ‘think they understand’ and 8 per cent were totally confused. A surprising 15 per cent said they clearly understand the scheme.

Asked what would encourage them to consider a renewable energy solution to heating their home, 73 per cent ticked grants and also a desire to pay lower energy bills. Nearly as popular was ‘a guaranteed return on your investment’. Concern about increasing gas and oil prices and a desire to reduce personal carbon emissions were also significant for two thirds of people, with half citing climate change and energy security. A lower rate of council tax would attract 59 per cent; while affordable loans were only of interest to a quarter of respondents.

The main reasons given for not considering a renewable heat option are that it is too expensive with the amount they are prepared to pay falling short of what most renewable heat systems actually cost. Homeowners also consider the installation being too disruptive.

Cathy went on to say “I was really surprised at how many people had heard about the renewable heat incentive, but our questions also show that there’s work to be done in increasing people’s understanding of it. I understand that the difficulties of measuring heat generated in a domestic situation is one of the problems DECC is struggling with in relation to how the RHI might work at a domestic level. Given the complications of the RHI at small scale, maybe they should reconsider grants, given that nearly three quarters of people would be encouraged to install by a grant.

It’s likely that price will be one the main stumbling blocks to mass take up of renewable heat. The 21 percent who are prepared to pay up to £2,500 will not be able to find any renewable heat system at that price. The choice is likely to be limited to solar hot water and air source heat pumps for the 30 percent prepared to pay between £2,501 and £5,000.”

For more information or for the detailed results of YouGen online survey, please contact Gilly Jones at or 0845 450 9418.

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