Scottish homeowners don’t have a true grasp of net-zero expectations, ESPC market research reveals


Independent market research conducted by leading Scottish property portal ESPC has revealed that homeowners in ESPC’s core territories (Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders) are not aware of the full extent of the Scottish Government’s expectations when it comes to the proposed net-zero targets for owner-occupied properties.

The research indicates that the Scottish Government needs to go much further with promoting, educating and informing homeowners and aspiring homeowners about the implications and expenses of meeting the proposed new standards for energy efficiency. As part of the stringent targets set by the Government, homeowners would be expected to ensure their homes meet a minimum standard of an EPC rating of C by 2033.

The data comes from independent market research conducted by Progressive in March and April 2024, where over 500 homeowners were spoken to in on-street surveys in towns and city centres across Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders, and a further 272 homeowners from the same regions completed an online version of the survey.

Below, we share some of the key results for the general homeowner audience from the online survey:

  • 4 in 5 homeowners were aware of the Scottish Government’s net-zero targets. However, homeowners (86%) were more likely to know this than first-time buyers (73%), suggesting promotion is required to reach this group who will be most adversely impacted in terms of expense.
  • Around half of homeowners and first-time buyers were not aware of the details of an EPC rating or had never heard of an EPC.
  • 73% of homeowners surveyed said they weren’t aware of the Government plans to introduce mandatory minimum standards of energy efficiency for owner-occupied properties.
  • Just 7% of participants could correctly identify the minimum proposed EPC rating of C.
  • 32% of those surveyed had not heard of the Scottish Government’s plans to phase out fossil fuel gas boilers from 2028.
  • 45% of those who had heard of the Government’s net-zero plan were aware of what ‘net-zero’ means for them as a homeowner.
  • Homeowners were largely very aware of their property’s energy efficiency status, with just 6% of homeowners stating they were ‘unsure’ of their home’s status.
  • 49% of the general homeowner market surveyed said that they believed their home meets the proposed minimum standards. However, 35% of these respondents either live in a home that actually doesn’t meet the minimum standards or aren’t completely sure of their home’s EPC rating. This means that a significant number of homeowners and/or first-time buyers are overestimating the energy efficiency of their current home or are underestimating how stringent the proposed standard is.
  • 90% of homeowners surveyed have made at least one change to improve their home’s energy efficiency. The most common upgrade was low-energy lighting, but significant proportions of those surveyed made more substantial changes including upgrading windows (34%), boilers (45%), loft and/or roof insulation (43%), and installing solar panels (12%).
  • However, 46% of homeowners stated that they have not or do not plan to upgrade their current heating system to a zero-emission system. Just one in four of those surveyed say that they either have upgraded or plan to in future.
  • 90% of the general homeowner audience believe that the Scottish Government should pay for at least some of the costs associated with meeting the proposed EPC rating of C, while one in three felt that all costs should be covered by the Government.

Paul Hilton, CEO of ESPC, commented: “With so much discussion in the press and in the housing industry around the Scottish Government’s net zero targets, it could be easy to assume that everyone is on the same page and understands the expectations and the implications that meeting these targets carries. However, it’s clear to see from this independent market research that the Government has a long way to go in terms of educating and informing the very homeowners that will be liable for meeting these standards, and for the costs involved in doing so. This research has revealed that great swathes of homeowners are not fully aware of the costs involved or the enforcements that are forthcoming.

“At ESPC, we have long been advocating for better support for homeowners on the path to meet the net zero targets, and this research highlights how desperately that support is needed – not just financially, but also in terms of making the guidelines, or laws, as they soon may be, accessible and comprehensive across the board. Much more education is required if the Government truly expects homeowners to meet these standards in the proposed timeline.”

The research can be downloaded in full here.