What are the Consumer Attitudes Towards Climate Change?

Climate change is a real issue that impacts us all and to make changes we must understand consumer attitudes to decarbonisation and future energy solutions. What are consumers doing to help fight climate change and are they open to future energy solutions which will support decarbonisation?

Ofgem conducted a consumer survey in 2020 that focused on consumer’s attitudes towards climate change. The survey also looked at whether consumers had intentions to change their behaviour to help reduce the impact of climate change. The results of the survey were published in May 2021.

The survey was conducted through online interviews with 4,608 participants and it focused on the following areas:

  • Consumer engagement with energy,
  • Attitudes towards topical energy issues since 2014,
  • Attitudes towards decarbonisation, and,
  • Openness of consumers to changing their energy use behaviour.

In this blog we have summarised the key findings from the survey.

What is the consumer understanding, and engagement, with decarbonisation?

The survey found that over 50% of consumers think that they are already doing enough to tackle the impacts of climate change. Additionally, the majority believed that they are doing all they can to save energy at home.

The results also revealed that those who have a greater involvement with energy, such as electric car drivers, had increased intentions on changing habits at home (regarding home energy use) or when it comes to transportation.

How popular are electric vehicles amongst consumers?

According to Ofgem’s survey, ownership of electric vehicles remains low. However, those who do own an electric vehicle are reported to be highly engaged in the energy market.

Results revealed that around ¼ of consumers who do not own an electric vehicle are likely to adopt one within the next 5 years.

However, there are still some people who don’t see electric vehicles as viable options due to range anxiety (short battery life and concerns about being able to charge) and perceptions of high purchase price.

Are consumers willing to change how they heat and insulate their home?

Home heating

Only 14% of respondents stated that they intend to install low carbon heating in their home. But why is the willingness to change how homes are heated so low? According to the survey the key barriers to change were costs, scepticism that it will save money and perceived disruption to install.

However, interestingly, the survey found that there were 3 groups of respondents who showed greater interest in changing how they heat their home, these were:

  • Younger consumers,
  • Consumers with higher incomes, and,
  • Consumers living in houses that have been built since 1990.

Home insulation

The willingness to upgrade home insulation was higher than that of upgrading home heating however it still remains low in that there were few who were open to installing home micro-generation. The reasons behind the low adoption rate are similar to those of home heating.

What do consumers think about smart meters and flexible energy use?

The survey found that most consumers are open to having a smart meter installed and have some awareness about their energy usage. Despite this, a third of respondents said they would need an impetus before they change when they use appliances due to their appliance usage being fit around work and/or school patterns as well as having difficulty in planning their energy usage.

Results from Ofgem’s survey also revealed that the products and services that could help consumers to use energy flexibly are still not widely accepted due to most consumers being uncomfortable with an external company controlling when their appliances run.

In conclusion, Ofgem’s survey results revealed that some consumers are open to ideas or solutions that will help reduce the impact of climate change. However there remain substantial barriers in place. For real change to take place, and for future energy solutions to be adopted, new heating, transportation and energy use solutions need to be affordable and compatible with consumer lifestyles.

What do HIES think of the results?

Faisal Hussain, HIES Chief Executive, comments:

“The survey revealed some interesting insights into consumer attitudes to decarbonisation and future energy solutions. We have a long way to go to get consumers onboard with changing how they use their energy. For change to be made at a wide scale it’s important that we help consumers understand why it’s important, the benefits to them, and why it matters.”

The full report by Ofgem can be found here.

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