Brits distrust green advice from tradespeopleEST poll finds people view advice as bid for work

02 June 2009

A man holds out a spanner

Just one in six British householders would trust the advice of a tradesperson doing work in their home if they offered to install energy efficiency measures.

In a new survey from the Energy Saving Trust (EST), 49% of respondents had never had a tradesperson recommend greener measures in their home - but 56% would suspect they were looking for extra work if they suggested energy efficiency measures for their home while carrying out another job.

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Green professional advice

Respondents in the EST survey felt that of all the trades, electricians were the mostly likely to be able to offer the best advice on installing energy efficient appliances in their home, but a separate survey of tradespeople showed that plumbers were most likely to offer some form of green or energy efficiency advice to their customers. 

Just over 80% of plumbers said they would offer green advice compared with just 27% of carpenters, 73% of electricians, 62% of conservatory installers, 56% of builders and 48% of roofing and loft conversion specialists.

Which? Local

Which? Local product manager, Pete Tynan, advises: 'Anyone getting home improvement work done should always get quotes from at least three reliable traders. Choose the trader who has the best understanding of the work involved and who discusses the options with you.

'If a trader recommends additional work such as efficiency measures, then get a second opinion on it before committing yourself and check the going rate for any work before you sign a contract. And check out the typical prices of improvement jobs listed on Which? Local.' 

Which? has information and advice on going green in your home - including advice on home heating systems, how to choose the right insulation, energy saving appliances, creating a more sustainable home and the Which? interactive green house.

Green advice

The second survey – of 241 UK tradespeople – found that 55% of tradespeople would offer green advice if they had more information on the subject, while 84% would like to be trusted by customers for their energy efficiency expertise.

The survey highlighted an appetite within the sector for more guidance and training on green issues. Clearer explanations of current environmental legislation were wanted by 68% of tradespeople surveyed while 78% wanted more information on future requirements for home energy efficiency.

Building in the Dark

The EST is calling for quality standards and training programmes for the housing sector on energy efficiency in a new campaign called Building in the Dark. 

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the EST, said: 'Latest figures show that around £24bn is spent annually on repair, maintenance and improvement works in UK housing and some of this work represents a missed opportunity to make green improvements. Real cost savings – in terms of labour and minimising disruption – are on offer to householders who employ tradespeople to install energy-efficiency measures when they are in doing other work.

'Seventy-five per cent of people in the UK believe the best way to improve the energy efficiency of a home is when the builders are in, but until tradespeople have the knowledge, training and skills to be able to offer this expertise as second nature then they will be building in the dark.'

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