Rising energy bills is the biggest concern among European homeowners, a recent survey reveals. The findings come at the same time as an inquiry into the UK energy market.
The findings come out of research conducted by DIY retail group Kingfisher, which includes retailers B&Q and Screwfix in the UK. The group surveyed 17,000 households across nine countries in the EU as part of the Kingfisher European Home Report.
The results of the survey reveal 65% of respondents cited rising energy bills as their primary worry at home. This figure more than doubles the amount of people who said they were more worried about rent or mortgage payments.
Sir Ian Cheshire, group chief executive of Kingfisher, commented, “Rising energy prices are a very real fear – right across Europe, a bigger concern even than worries about paying the rent or mortgage. “There is a staggering increase in the number of people who intend to prioritise energy efficiency and it is soaring bills that is driving this agenda.”
Improving energy efficiency
The biggest priority in the home is now improving energy efficiency, with almost a third (31%) stating they are taking steps to improve their energy efficiency, compared to just 4% in the 2012 survey.
“This is not being driven by a green agenda – it is about anxiety about finance,” Cheshire adds. He believes energy efficiencies such as smart meters and LED lighting will reap a massive uplift across Europe.
The results from the survey suggest energy efficient light bulbs are the first point of call in improving efficiency, with renewable electricity (46%), double glazing (38%) and low flush toilets (30%) following closely behind.
Fuel poverty and government response
Figures published in June reveal that there are 2.28m households living in fuel poverty across the UK. Those over the age of 55 have the most significant concerns about rising energy prices (72%) and keeping warm (41%). Some charities have hit out at the government, saying they are not doing enough to help those struggling with their utility bills.
The government’s £4,000 subsidy for home insulation under the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund was closed six months early due to unprecedented demand. The government since announced plans to upgrade the least efficient homes and lower energy bills for those in low-income households as part of the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
Customer exodus of the big six energy firms
The publication of the Kingfisher report comes at the same time as huge volumes of customers are turning away from the ‘big six’ energy companies in favour of smaller, independent suppliers.
The growing distrust towards British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Scottish Power, npower and SSE has come out of rising prices, profiteering claims and a catalogue of billing errors. The top energy companies, who supply 95% of UK homes, are now at the centre of a Competition and Markets Authority investigation after being reported by energy sector regulator Ofgem.
News reports have since claimed the big six have lost 2 million customers to small suppliers. Cooperative Energy and extraenergy also recently announced new tariffs under £1,000 per year and some of the cheapest deals on the market come from small suppliers.
Sam Travers is an eco warrior of sorts. He works for a green charity and blogs regularly about the state of the energy sector and aims to make the world a better place.