Saturday, July 13, 2024

Homeowners Turn to Green Energy Upgrades as Traditional Home Improvement Activity Declines

The demand for home extensions, loft conversions, and garden work has dramatically decreased since the post-pandemic boom, with homeowners now prioritising green energy upgrades to reduce their energy bills.

According to a major new study by data analysts Barbour ABI, the number of home improvement applications has fallen by 27% since 2021, with 2023 seeing the lowest numbers since 2013. This decline follows an unprecedented spike in activity in 2021, when nearly 450,000 applications were submitted.

The new Home Improvement Index from Barbour ABI reveals a significant shift in homeowner spending trends. Brian Green, a consulting analyst at Barbour ABI, explained, “The build-up of excess savings from reduced spending on holidays and entertainment during lockdown generated a surge in home improvements in 2021. However, the current cost-of-living crisis has led to a decline in traditional home improvement activities.”

Solar and Insulation Rise to the Top of Wish Lists

While overall home improvement applications have dropped, applications for solar panels and insulation have surged. In 2023, the number of applications for solar panels was two and a half times higher than in 2019, and insulation applications were one and a half times higher, representing a 60% increase since 2021.

Brian Green commented, “There has been a swift transition in the motivations for home improvement. Initially driven by a desire to improve outdoor spaces and home offices during the pandemic, homeowners are now increasingly focused on cutting energy bills due to the cost-of-living crisis. The surge in applications for solar panels and insulation highlights this trend.”

Green added, “There are challenges ahead for the home improvement sector, but also opportunities for businesses that can adapt to these shifting market trends.”

Regional Variations

The cost-of-living crisis has impacted different regions unevenly. Wales and the North West saw the biggest drops in home improvement applications last year, with decreases of 16.8% and 14.1% respectively. Low house prices relative to the rest of Britain and recent falls in property values have deterred investment in these areas.

Conversely, London experienced the smallest decline in applications. Wealthy areas in the capital, such as Kensington and Chelsea, saw an increase in applications, in contrast to lower-income areas in the rest of Great Britain.

The Home Improvement Index is now available on Barbour ABI’s website, providing detailed insights into the latest trends and regional variations in home improvement activity.