Energy bills worry us more than the mortgage

4 August 2014

British homeowners are more worried about rising energy bills than anything else, an international survey has revealed.

Some 64% of people said rising energy costs were their number one worry about the home - more than triple the number most concerned with keeping up with their mortgage or rent (18.8%).

It's a similar story across Europe, where homeowners are twice as worried about how much they pay for gas and electricity (65%) as they are about keeping up with their mortgage or rent (23%).

As a result, homeowners are becoming more proactive about improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Indeed, across Europe people are eight times more likely to prioritise energy efficient changes, with 31% intending to update their home's energy efficiency, compared to just 4% in 2012.

Sir Ian Cheshire, group chief executive of Kingfisher, said: "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."

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Europeans are also increasingly outgrowing their homes, the study by B&Q's parent company Kingfisher found. Houses being built on smaller plots and rising trends such as working from home and children living longer with their parents, are putting pressure on the home. And it's worse in the UK because we have the smallest homes of any of our European neighbours.

Some 77% of European homeowners said their current home needs adapting to meet changing family needs, 22% said they need to create more space and 46% said they have, or would like, a home office.

Meanwhile, the number of homeowners using home improvement to increase the value of their home quadrupled from 17% in 2012 to 68% in 2014.

Other reasons for doing work included to demonstrate success and impress friends (39%) and to keep up with the Joneses (34%).

The features most people want are swimming pools (28%), fireplaces (26%), conservatories (23%) and hot tubs (22%).

Sir Ian Cheshire added: "As lifestyles change and living costs rise, people want more and more from their home. The modern home increasingly needs to be a flexible, adaptable space that is able to evolve as our lives change. These days our homes need to be an office, an entertainment hub and a multi-generational living space.

"Despite worries about rising energy costs, the big increase in those looking to use their home as a wealth creator through doing home improvement shows people are more confident about their homes than they were just a couple of years ago."

What concerns Brits most about their homes?

  1. Rising energy prices, 64.2%
  2. Keeping the home warm, 34.8%
  3. General maintenance and upkeep, 32.7%
  4. Paying other utility bills, 32.6%
  5. Safety & security in the home, 24.5%
  6. Noisy/inconsiderate/antisocial neighbours, 19.8%
  7. Keeping up with mortgage/rent payments, 18.8%
  8. Pollution levels/health, 11.9%
  9. Protection against fire, 10%
  10. Protection against flooding, 7.8%

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