UK homeowners are more forward-thinking than house builders when it comes to energy efficiency and renewables. These are the findings of the NHBC Trust’s latest report, Today’s attitudes to low and zero carbon homes, which states that there is a significant gap between what the customer wants and what is actually being constructed.

NHBC found that more than 65 percent of customers recognise energy efficiency as an attractive feature of their new home, with 84 percent ranking solar PV and solar thermal technologies as the most attractive low carbon features. Awareness of other energy technologies was far lower with just 31 percent pointing towards heat pumps and just 17 percent for mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR).

The research noted that the main reason for UK homeowners’ interest in these features is their increasing awareness of energy prices. Consumers are now far more conscious of how much their energy costs and the impact conventional fuel sources have on the environment. As a result many are now actively seeking ways to reduce their annual energy bills.

Out of those surveyed 96 percent said that their energy costs were important to them with 65 percent saying they were very important. Energy efficiency was the equal sixth most important factor in choosing a home to buy or rent.

The majority of those who had moved into new-build homes said that energy efficiency features made the home more attractive. Those living in homes that had been built to a higher level of energy efficiency placed even greater emphasis on this.

Yet despite the evidence to suggest that energy efficiency features do influence buying decisions, the house-building industry remains focussed on cost. The industry claims that in their experience people won't pay more for homes with “eco-features.”

However, NHBC’s research found that 69 percent of UK homeowners would be willing to pay £10,000 more for a home that was more energy efficient that its cheaper counterpart based on the savings they could make on their energy bills.