It’s rare to find a man, woman or child in a developed country that hasn’t heard the term “Global Warming.” Likewise, it’s near impossible to find a homeowner who isn’t interested in reducing energy bills. For these reasons, surveyors at Opinium Research are baffled by their findings that the vast majority of UK households don’t understand how renewable heat technology works.
Renewable heat energy has been popping up all over the media, especially since the Renewable Heat Incentive launched in 2011. So, why do homeowners know so little about this form of clean energy?
The study surveyed 2,000 UK households about their understanding of renewable heat energy and their energy-efficient behaviours. Researchers found that most people focus on small measures, like installing energy-efficient light bulbs. Very few had considered switching to renewable energy as a heat source.
But most respondents stated their willingness to install renewable heating solutions if the annual savings reach £247 per year. Fortunately, this figure is much lower than the estimated savings that come from innovations like biomass boilers, which can save up to 45 per cent on energy bills.
Although most UK residents know the importance of reducing energy use, many do not understand the benefits of biomass systems and heat pumps, let alone how they work.
Researchers found that nearly 66 per cent of UK adults could not correctly identify solar PV or wind turbines as renewable energy technologies. Similarly, one-fourth of those surveyed could not identify biomass boilers or heat pumps as energy-efficient solutions. This is particularly revealing because biomass boilers and heat pumps are the only two heat sources that are completely sustainable.
The study also showed that more than 80 per cent of UK households believe that energy consumption must reduce. However, only 63 per cent had taken steps to do so within the past two years.
Possibly the most shocking statistic is that 74 per cent of households did not know the term “biomass heating system.” Of the 26 per cent that could identify the term, less than half actually knew the purpose of the system.
More than half of respondents didn’t know the power source of biomass boilers. The majority of those that knew how to power biomass boilers did not know where to acquire the materials to do so.
Finally, about 75 per cent did not know what a heat pump does.
According to Innasol CEO Silvio Spiess, this survey is particularly revealing of how little consumers understand about renewable heating solutions. Although the vast majority recognize the importance of energy efficiency and how it can reduce energy bills, they aren’t familiar with the available solutions, let alone the Government incentives that make renewable heat energy affordable for almost any home or business.
Proponents of renewable energy can’t agree on who’s responsible for spreading public awareness. Some say it’s the Government’s responsibility; others say it’s the responsibility of companies in the industry.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that a lack of public understanding is one of the major obstacles in the way of clean energy reform. According to a recent report by Environmental Leader, this is the reason why many applications for biomass energy plants fail.
The report states that there are several steps a company can take to increase the likelihood of getting their plans approved, but the first step is to rally public support. The site encourages companies to develop informational webpages, create pamphlets and send out mailers. The theory is that if the community understands the environmental and economic benefits that come with biomass energy plants, they are more likely to advocate the project.