Research into consumer attitudes to low and zero carbon technologies reveals contains some important lessons for the industry
As far back as September 2008, the NHBC Foundation was publishing research on consumer attitudes to low and zero carbon (LZC) technologies. Then, many of the technologies were in their infancy and not widely available or fitted, but are now increasingly being adopted into the design of new homes.
This week, we have published further research into what consumers really think of LZC technologies and how they are actually using them on a day-to-day basis. This in-depth, in-home study by Reading University, was of a small cohort of six homes across four separate developments.
Most of the homeowners in the report said they were comfortable operating the technology fitted to their home, and most would recommend them to a friend. They also felt that the technology generally operated as they expected. However, the written information provided to homeowners on the technologies was deemed as unsuitable by all of them, and this could be where there is an opportunity for the future.
Most of the homeowners in the report said they were comfortable operating the technology fitted to their home, and most would recommend them to a friend
The advantages of a highly energy efficient home fitted with LZC technologies may not be fully realised if the occupants aren’t provided with the right level of knowledge or appropriate, intuitive controls. As more of these homes are built, it is likely that the importance of controls will come to the fore, to ensure that the homeowner is able to operate the technologies to their full potential.
This report also includes interviews with sales teams across six developments, to gain an insight into their understanding of the technologies, and how they promote them. Despite half of them claiming a good understanding of the LZC technologies and that they are a sales feature for the home, they felt unable to make specific claims about the technologies’ performance, or introduce the benefits and limitations to potential purchasers early on in the process. There is a clear advantage here for the sales advisers to have a full understanding of what is being installed and to better understand the underlying principles of the technologies.
As we move towards the zero carbon future, it is clearly important that builders recognise the benefits of consumer engagement in the sustainable features of new homes. Helping their customers to recognise and take advantage of the benefits that LZC technologies can bring will undoubtedly help to ensure that the features deliver their potential in reality.
Neil Jefferson is director of the NHBC and chief executive of the Zero Carbon Hub