Homeowners need to understand low-carbon technologies, study reveals

Published:  29 November, 2013

Homeowners are unable to take advantage of the benefits of low- and zero-carbon technologies because they do not understand how they work, according to new research by the NHBC Foundation.

Homeowners are unable to take advantage of the benefits of low- and zero-carbon (LZC) technologies because they do not understand how they work, according to new research by the NHBC Foundation.

The study discovered that despite problems in understanding the technology and articulating its benefits, most homeowners still said they were comfortable using it and would recommend the technology to a friend. However, not one homeowner interviewed was able to demonstrate an understanding of how the technologies operated.

All the households monitored during the study stated that the LZC technologies had not been a factor in deciding to purchase the property, and rated the written guidance provided for using the technologies as 'unsuitable'.

The research was carried out by Reading University in six homes across four separate developments and looked at how homeowners lived with the technologies day by day.

The new findings are consistent with earlier research published by the NHBC Foundation in 2012 – ‘NF40 Today's attitudes to low and zero carbon homes’ – which identified that action was needed to help consumer understanding of use and maintenance of renewable technologies.

Neil Smith, head of research & innovation at NHBC, said: “With more and more homes being fitted with LZC technologies in the run up to the government’s 2016 zero-carbon homes target, it is a concern that both homeowners and sales staff alike don't fully understand the basic principles of how they work, or the full benefits that they can bring.

“As we move towards the zero-carbon future, it is important that the housebuilding industry and its supply chain recognise the benefits of consumer engagement in the sustainable features of new homes. Helping customers to recognise and take advantage of the benefits of LZC technologies can ensure that the features deliver their potential in reality.”