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Climate

Making an informed choice

Why understanding customer motivations can help NatWest Group empower people to take action that’s good for the planet and their pocket

Following energy price rises and a growth in renewable energy technologies, many people are thinking about how they can make their home more sustainable and reduce their bills.

However, as the cost of living crisis continues to bite, our Greener Homes Attitudes Tracker has shown over 2023 that many homeowners are putting their plans to make sustainability improvements on hold.1

But cost isn’t the only barrier to people improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Research published as part of ‘Mission Zero: Independent Review’ of Net Zero by MP Chris Skidmore, showed that knowledge about the options to take action on climate change is limited , while almost 50% of people feel that there is so much conflicting information that it can be difficult to know what to believe.2

One aspect of our role in this transition is to develop products that support customers to make greener choices.

‘Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and it’s central to our purpose here at NatWest,’ explains Head of Mortgages, Lloyd Cochrane. ‘As a leading UK bank, we recognise that we have a significant responsibility, and the ability, to support our customers and more broadly play our part in helping the UK to transition to a net zero carbon economy.

‘One aspect of our role in this transition is to develop products that support customers to make greener choices. Raising consumer awareness of the impacts that this transition will likely have on them, and the importance of taking action, is one of the first areas we have agreed to focus on.’

 

Understanding attitudes 

NatWest Group launched the Greener Homes Attitude Tracker in 2021. It’s a quarterly survey of 4,500 UK individuals that tracks consumer awareness and engagement with climate change. It includes the Green Home Improvements index and measures the importance of energy efficiency and the influence of environmental concerns in people’s decision-making and behaviours.

The Greener Homes Attitude Tracker is building a picture of how homebuyers, renters and owners feel about greener homes and the importance of environmental lifestyle choices, as well as the pressures they’re facing from elsewhere.3

‘The survey is helping us to gauge how this is changing over time,’ says Lloyd, ‘And it will help us shape our actions and customer support as a result.

Greener Homes Attitude Tracker

The Greener Homes Attitude Tracker is quarterly survey based on 4,500 UK individuals that aims to understand how homebuyers, renters and owners feel about greener homes and the importance of environmental features.

Survey methodology

The NatWest Greener Homes Attitude Tracker survey was first conducted in May 2021 and is compiled by S&P Global. The survey is intended to accurately anticipate changing consumer behaviour. The questionnaire is designed to be quick and easy to complete, incorporating a small number of key questions, which encourages regular participation among even high-level respondents.

The survey is based on monthly responses from 1,500 individuals in the UK, with data collected by Ipsos MORI from its panel of respondents aged 18-64. The survey sample is structured according to gender, region and age to ensure the survey results accurately reflect the true composition of the population. Results are also weighted to further improve representativeness.

Empowering action

It’s just one of the resources that we’re using at NatWest Group to support the transition to net zero, brought together for everyone on our online Climate Change Hub.

The hub offers information and tips about saving energy, adopting a more sustainable lifestyle and options for low-carbon travel. We’re also supporting customers directly, with personalised messages that help them to understand how they could save energy at home and make more sustainable choices. 

 

Home Energy Plan

On the Climate Change Hub is the Home Energy Plan, a free digital tool that can show how people could reduce their energy usage and make their home warmer. Open to anyone in the UK, it offers users a customised plan with recommendations for cutting their energy consumption and outlines the potential savings they could make.

The tool uses publicly available data from the UK government’s database of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and local surveys to calculate a home’s energy usage. Users can add information about the improvements they’ve already made, like installing solar panels, to get a more accurate picture about their options to save energy. It emerged from a pilot programme launched in 2021, which aimed to help understand how NatWest Group could use EPC data to support customers’ transition to net zero.

Even small changes can make a big difference over time

When it comes to our homes, there’s the potential to make a big impact. ‘Our homes account for 16% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions’, says Digital Innovation Manager, Rachael Colville-Walker.4 ‘Even small changes, like switching to LED light bulbs, can make a big difference over time.’ 

As the cost of living crisis hit, customers’ reasons for making their homes more energy efficient began to shift, as Rachael explains.

‘At the start, the tool was focused primarily on sustainability and climate change. But we listened to our customers’ feedback about their motivations – they were prioritising keeping their homes warm and reducing their energy bills. As the tool developed, we pivoted our approach to respond to these priorities.

‘Customers were surprised that the bank was doing this,’ says Rachael. ‘They were surprised to learn about the range of support available to help them on their transition to net zero.’

The Home Energy Plan is now one of the key tools on the Climate Change Hub and is part of a growing library of resources focused on building awareness about climate change and sustainability.

This year, the team are developing the Home Energy Plan to offer greater support to homeowners They’re working on an extension to the Plan which will allow customers to explore their options further and access services and products like insulation or solar panels for their home from a number of partners. 

Working with partners

It’s also a useful example of the benefits of working in partnership. The Home Energy Plan was developed with energy efficiency experts, Quidos, who were working with NatWest Group to use EPC data to understand the properties on our mortgage book. Quidos are also one of the partners supporting our Home Improvement Pilot through the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition, where we’ve collaborated with British Gas, Worcester Bosch and Quidos to deliver home retrofits for nine customers to understand the processes and challenges they face to improve the efficiency of their homes.

We’re using this knowledge and understanding to inform our actions and approach to tackling climate change not only within our own business, but also for the benefit of society in the UK and globally. We’re using our voice and working with other partners and with government, with the aim to ensure that no one is left behind in the transition to a more sustainable future.

NatWest Group is at the start of a journey to support our customers’ transition. There’s a lot more work to do, but by harnessing technology, providing education and developing tools to understand our impacts, we can help our Retail customers join us on this journey and take action to tackle climate change.  

Disclaimers and cautions

This is for media use and not a financial promotion.

Caution about this article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewees: Lloyd Cochrane and Rachael Colville-Walker, and do not necessarily represent the views of the NatWest Group.

This article (i) has been prepared for information and reference purposes only; (ii) is intended to provide non-exhaustive, indicative and general information only; (iii) does not purport to be comprehensive; and (iv) does not provide any form of legal, tax, investment, accounting, financial or other advice.

This article should be read together with the full Climate Matters document (with special regard to the Cautionary Statements) relating to this content.

Please see NatWest Group’s 2022 Climate-related Disclosures Report for those views and other information including about our financed emissions and our exposure to heightened climate-related risk sectors.

1. Mission Zero: Independent Review of Net Zero – Final Report (2023), p225

2. BEIS Autumn 2022 Public Attitudes Tracker (accessed December 2022), quoted in Mission Zero: Independent Review of Net Zero – Final Report (2023), p225 

3. Greener Homes Attitude Tracker, www.natwest.com/mortgages/greener-homes-attitude-tracker.html. The NatWest Greener Homes Attitude Tracker survey was first conducted in May 2021 and is compiled by S&P Global. The survey is based on monthly responses from 1,500 individuals in the UK, with data collected by Ipsos MORI from its panel of respondents aged 18-64. The survey sample reflects the true composition of the population to ensure the accuracy of the survey results.

4. 2021 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Final Figures, Residential p21 

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