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Homes ‘go green' to help the household budget

2nd April 2012 Print

The environment is proving to be a beneficiary of the current economic climate as high energy prices and money pressures force homeowners to seek the financial advantages of energy efficient measures and appliances.

New research from M&S Home Insurance, on the second anniversary of its ‘Green Home Cover', which offers free green upgrades when replacing appliances, reveals half (49 per cent) of homeowners are more concerned with energy efficiency now than they were last year, in an attempt to save money. Household energy bills rose by 21 per cent or £221 in 2011 alone. Just 17 per cent of those surveyed were concerned with saving energy for environmental reasons.

Over three quarters of homeowners questioned have embraced a range of simple energy saving measures in a bid to save money, and up to two thirds have made green home improvements, to reduce rising energy bills while increasing energy efficiency.

Older generations are the most energy efficient, with 89 per cent of over 55 year olds switching off lights and using energy savings bulbs, compared to only half of those under 25. Although more over 55s say they are interested in saving money than under 25s (86 per cent vs 75 per cent), they are also more concerned about the environment (35 per cent vs 20 per cent).

Women are more energy efficient than men, with more women undertaking green measures than men for every action, with the sole exception of keeping the heating on a timer so it doesn't run all day. The biggest difference between the genders is in the number of men and women that put on extra layers rather than turning the heating up (67 per cent of women compared with 60 per cent of men).

Women are also more likely to say they always buy an appliance with an energy rating of A or above, or they frequently consider the energy rating of an appliance (63 per cent compared with 56 per cent). Men are also more likely to say they never consider the rating of an appliance (13 per cent of men compared with 10 per cent of women).

We are energy aware, but there is still work to be done

While homeowners are adopting green attitudes to save money, the majority are missing a trick when it comes to their major electrical appliances, which make up 18 per cent of the average energy bill.

The worst rated electrical appliances can cost over four times as much to run as the most energy efficient, however, over half (53 per cent) don't select a product rated ‘A' or above, with only 15 per cent always selecting the most efficient model.

A lack of awareness when it comes to the rating of appliances already in the home is also an issue, while 43 per cent own a mix of high and low efficiency rated products, 23 per cent are unaware of how green their appliances are.

M&S Home Insurance claims data shows that while most people choose to upgrade to an ‘A' rated appliance when offered at no extra cost, a quarter (26%) still opt for lower rated products, perhaps preferring the model they are used to or the aesthetic look of a less efficient model.

In 2011, M&S Home Insurance customers claimed for 434 energy rated products

32 per cent of M&S customers upgraded to A, A+ or A++ products
42 per cent of customers received the same A, A+ or A++ products that they were replacing
26 per cent of customers chose not to upgrade their lower rated products

Fleur Carruthers, Home Insurance Manager at M&S Money, said: "In the current economic climate saving money is a huge priority for most households, so it's great to see so many people are realising the financial benefits of going green while also helping the environment.  Our green cover, which provides green upgrades at no additional cost, has seen 74 per cent of our customers choose to go green over the last two years."

Follow Fleur's green tips to cut costs and lesson your environmental impact:

Don't lose energy - take measures to ensure you're making the most of the energy you pay for- insulate walls and lofts and use a draught excluder on doors where cold is creeping in

Don't waste energy - turn off lights when you leave a room and don't leave appliances on standby

Go green to save energy- energy efficient light bulbs and ‘A' rated appliances reduce energy consumption helping to keep costs down

Regional Findings

The top three regions for energy efficiency are the North East, Wales and the South East. These areas carry out the most energy saving measures around the home, and over half of homeowners will always buy a product with an energy rating of A or above.

London is the least energy efficient region in the UK but has the most intentions to make green home improvements, with 68% considering making changes.