October 16, 2011 / 7:46 PM / 8 years ago

Britons unaware of energy efficiency loans and subsidies

LONDON (Reuters) - Less than one third of British people know they can receive government subsidies for installing solar power panels and less than half are aware of loans for home energy efficiency improvements, a survey showed on Thursday.

Only 32 percent of consumers interviewed knew of government so-called feed-in tariffs (FiT) to support the use of solar panels and over half of those aware said they did not understand the programme, a poll conducted by French electric equipment supplier Rexel (RXL.PA) showed.

“We, as an electric equipment supplier, our partners and the government have a responsibility to bring this information to the public,” said Brian Smithers, business development director for Rexel UK & Ireland.

Since April 2010 the UK government has contributed state aid to small-scale renewable energy projects, including solar power, which homeowners can make use of by installing domestic energy technology.

Until the end of June, more than 40,000 solar installations made use of the FiT scheme, according to energy watchdog Ofgem figures, but only 13 percent of Rexel’s survey respondents said they understood the programme well.

Nevertheless a large majority — 94 percent — of interviewees said energy efficiency was important and 87 percent said they paid attention to their energy consumption.

The survey also showed Britons and Americans agree that the prospect of saving money through energy efficiency was the strongest incentive, while French and Germans are more concerned about saving the environment.

Britons are more aware of the roll out of energy measurement smart meters to all homes in their country by the end of 2018, with 65 percent saying they had heard of the plan.

But a separate survey by UK energy supplier E.ON showed just one third of its poll respondents knew what a smart meter does, with some consumers believing it was an electronic device that lets you make face-to-face calls with your energy supplier.

E.ON aims to install 1 million smart meters by the end of March 2014 and has opened a smart meter contact centre to inform customers.

Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by James Jukwey

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