What homeowners think about their homes’ energy performance

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Homeowners are the other key to improving New Zealand’s homes.  Currently many homeowners focus on the improving the look or size of their home when they undertake renovations.  Few consider the performance of their home and the impact it has on their health, home life and finances.

Do homeowners recognise when their home is under-performing?  What steps do they take to address problems?  Are they successful? This research is all about understanding the motivations and knowledge of homeowners when it comes to renovation, and identifying the best group to target for energy retrofits.    

Beacon surveyed three different groups of homeowners.  We chose:

  1. High Energy Users - important because they form the biggest portion of residential energy use and make up 15- 25% of households. 
  2. Recent Movers - important because they make immediate selection choices regarding the energy efficiency of their new home and often finance their new home to allow for both purchase and renovation.  
  3. Landlords - important because homeownership in New Zealand is falling.  Landlord decisions are likely to become increasingly important in determining the thermal performance of the housing stock and the conditions under which many households live. 

The surveys show all three sets of house owners are resistant to investment in retrofitting for energy savings. While High Energy Users and Recent Movers have histories of expending significant amounts on renovations the year prior to surveying, they do not address basic energy deficiencies easily retrofitted at low cost, including draughty doors and windows; poor insulation of hot water cylinders and pipes; partial roof and underfloor insulation, and inefficient heating and lighting. Indeed, it appears that, where householders do undertake work that might be considered ‘retrofit,’ they undertake to put in complex systems rather than address basic issues of thermal performance.  Despite spending money on technological solutions, considerable proportions of owner occupiers found that they continued to have mould, damp and cold problems.

For rent sign

The Landlord Survey also suggests that regulation has limited impact and can not be considered the only way to promote improved rental house performance. Almost two thirds (63.3%) of landlords report that they would renovate their rental stock if Government financial assistance was available - but only a very small proportion of landlords were aware of the existing sources of financial assistance.  Some landlords claimed that they would renovate for improved performance if asked to by their tenants but, generally, increasing the level of energy renovation among landlords presents a significant challenge.

  • 06-Jan-2008 (Report EN6570/3)

    House Owners and Energy: Retrofit, Renovation and Getting House Performance (PDF 351KB)

    Kay Saville Smith

    Reports on three surveys of homeowner groups in New Zealand: high energy users, recent movers, landlords. Summarises awareness, attitudes and efforts toward renovation, and willingness to pay for renovation.  Comes with three appendices: High Energy Users Survey; Recent Movers SurveyLandlords Survey

  • 05-Jan-2008 (Report EN6570/4)

    Appendix A: High Energy User Survey (PDF 450 KB)

    Kay Saville Smith

    Survey of 700 homeowners found that high energy users resist investment in retrofitting and do not select resource efficient homes. Despite higher energy expenditure and incomes, homeowners accept mould, damp and cold and make little improvement.  Appendix to House Owners and Energy - Retrofit, Renovation and Getting House Performance.

  • 05-Jan-2008 (Report EN6570/5)

    Appendix B: Recent Movers Energy Survey (PDF 500 KB)

    Kay Saville Smith

    A postal survey of 724 homeowners found that recent movers resist significant investment in retrofitting but attempt to select resource efficient houses. They spend a relatively high amount on renovation but are not aware of low cost options to increase energy efficiency and comfort. Their retrofits tend to include complex appliances and systems rather than address the basics such as draught control and efficient heating.  Appendix to House Owners and Energy - Retrofit, Renovation and Getting House Performance.


  • 05-Jan-2008 (Report EN6570/6)

    Appendix C: Landlords Energy Survey (PDF 400 KB)

    Kay Saville Smith

    A telephone survey of 491 landlords found resistance to investment in retrofitting and unresponsiveness to tenant demands or advice from professional bodies. Landlords report that they would renovate with financial assistance. Renovation and maintenance is largely cheap and basic redecorating, although in responding to cold, damp and mould, many pursue technological solutions before dealing with basic issues.  Appendix to House Owners and Energy - Retrofit, Renovation and Getting House Performance.

People on street