So far solar

Fear no more the heat o the sun, nor the furious winter’s rages.

According to research released yesterday by the Energy Saving Trust, a third of Britons would be willing to pay more for a home where some of the energy supply came from renewable resources such as wind, solar or hydropower.

Cynical I may be, but I’m not sure I believe that.

Oh, I have no doubt that when questioned people will say they would pay more. But I firmly believe that wallets rule hearts when it comes to handing over cold, hard cash.

Especially under current economic circumstances.

The news release announcing this came with the headline “Solar panel is the new designer kitchen”. No it’s not, the designer kitchen is the new designer kitchen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that there are more and more people put there who are looking at investing in renewable energy – why else would this sector be experiencing the growth rates in currently is.

I just think that potential house purchasers are more concerned with the headline price and that energy savings don’t mean a huge amount when you’re talking about paying thousands more for one property over another. After all the per year energy savings that the news release talked about are in the region of £50 a year for solar water heating and £200 a year for solar electricity. That’s only £4.16 a month or £16 a month. I suppose that does seem a reasonable saving, but it depends on how much more you are being asked to spend in the first place.

Always supposing that housebuyers are made aware of the energy efficiency of the house of course.

The Home Information Pack and the Energy Certificates do contain these details. But I’ve been house-hunting for a few months now and I have yet to find an estate agent to volunteer the information, even when specifically asked for it. And there’s always the risk that a potential purchaser asking for the energy efficiency details is interested less in the house’s consumption figures than in using it as a lever to knock a bit more of the selling price of the less-efficient one.

With so much of the UK populace still wedded to the notion of house-price-as-indicator-of-wealth, I think it’s going to take a bit more persuasion to make them really want to pay top-dollar up-front for newer technology.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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