A new poll conducted by the Energy Saving Trust has found that 84 per cent of tradespeople want to give householders advice they can trust. But only one in six has confidence in tradespeople’s green guidance.

Just one in six British householders would trust a tradesperson’s green guidance but eight in 10 tradespeople would like to give energy efficiency advice that was respected by their customers, according to two polls from the Energy Saving Trust, the UK’s leading organisation set up to help people fight climate change.

The research was commissioned as part of the Energy Saving Trust’s Building in the Dark campaign which was launched on 2nd June 2009. The initiative aims to highlight the green skills gap among UK tradespeople, as well as campaign for new quality standards and training programmes for the housing sector on energy efficiency.

One poll – of 2362 people from across the UK – found that just 17 per cent would trust the advice of the tradesperson already doing work in their house, if they offered to install energy efficiency measures.

And more than half (56 per cent) would suspect that if a tradesperson doing a job on their house suggested energy efficiency measures for their home their motivation was to get extra work.

The second survey – of 241 UK tradespeople – found that 55 per cent of tradespeople would offer green advice if they had more information while more than eight in 10 (84 per cent) would like to be trusted by their customers to give energy efficiency advice.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) of tradespeople want clearer explanations of current environmental legislation while almost eight in 10 (78 per cent) need better guidance of changes in the pipeline for energy efficiency requirements.

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said: “If the national target of an 80 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 is to be met it is vital we tackle the lack of energy efficiency in our existing housing stock. We simply must act now.

“Latest figures show that £23.9 billion is spent on repair, maintenance and improvement works on the UK housing stock 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. Householders can save on average £340 a year on energy bills through green improvements and energy efficient behaviours.

“We need new training schemes and quality marks for the housing sector to help householders identify skilled tradespeople with the expertise to make green improvements.

“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.”

Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders said: “There are already some entrepreneurial tradespeople out there and we are increasingly seeing businesses developing special services for householders who want greener and more energy efficient homes. We would like to this to become the norm rather than the exception but to increase the number of tradespeople offering energy efficient improvement works there needs to be greater demand from homeowners.

“One way to increase demand would be for the Government to cut VAT to five percent for property repairs thereby offering an incentive to have building work done. Coupling a VAT cut with more training for tradesmen should mean a real increase in energy efficient homes in the UK.”

Anthony Day from York recently renovated his Victorian Terrace house to make it more energy efficient. He said: “When I had builders in my home they did an excellent job, but some of the green measures were a first for them. We’re always looking to save money and carbon emissions and when you’re doing up your property and the builders are in, it is the perfect time for them to put in these additional green measures.

“Planning is the key. Do your homework so you know what’s possible in advance – and the best place to start is the Energy Saving Trust.”

The Energy Saving Trust Housing Programme works with housing professionals to achieve higher standards of energy efficiency in the UK housing market. The programme provides free technical guidance and solutions to help UK housing professionals design, build and refurbish to high levels of energy efficiency.

The Energy Saving Trust aims to enhance its Housing Programme by end 2009 to better help general builders and tradespeople.

The survey of 2362 UK consumers also found:

  • Almost half (49 per cent) of respondents have never had a tradesperson recommend energy efficiency measures in their home.
  • Respondents felt that of all the trades, electricians were the mostly likely to be able to offer the best advice on how to install green measures in their home.

The survey of 241 UK tradespeople also found:

  • Plumbers are the most likely of all UK tradespeople to offer green advice to customers.
  • More than eight in 10 (81 per cent) of plumbers would offer energy efficiency advice compared to just 27 per cent of carpenters.
  • Electricians came in second at 73 per cent with conservatory installers at 62 per cent, builders at 56 per cent and roofing/loft conversion specialists at just under half (48 per cent).

If you are a householder who needs more information on how you can implement some home improvements contact your local Energy Saving Trust advice centre on 0800 512012 or visit the website at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk