The ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown daily routines into disarray and brought aspects of our lives we have long wanted to improve or change into even sharper focus. One area under such growing consideration is the way people travel on a day-to-day basis and the impact it has on their health and wellbeing, immediate surroundings and on the environment more broadly. Across the UK, to avoid crowding onto public transport, more and more people are exploring alternative modes of transportation that are also more environmentally friendly – including a rise in walking, cycling and for some, electric vehicles.
The UK is among Europe’s largest markets for electric vehicle sales with data from May this year suggesting that hybrid and plug-in electric are likely to account for more than 10 percent of overall car registrations in the UK in 2020. Alongside this, recent forecasts have suggested that by 2025 more than 350,000 UK homes will be fitted with electric vehicle (EV) chargers.
At Checkatrade, these predictions are ring true as we’ve already started seeing a notable rise in the number of EV charger installation enquiries. This year, before the UK went into lockdown, our figures showed steady month on month growth in the number of people visiting the platform to explore the installation of EV chargers. And more recently, we’ve witnessed a significant surge with searches increasing by 354% between April and June 2020 as lockdown restrictions eased and people started getting back in their cars.
As demand has been so high, Checkatrade has developed a cost guide for EV charger installation to equip people with the knowledge they need when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
First up, it’s worth calling out that chargers are relatively easy and cost-effective for home-owning drivers to install – particularly as electric vehicle owners can apply for a Government Grant towards the cost of the installation, as well as additional money from the Energy Saving Trust (TST). Car owners then only need to pay for the electricity that’s used – there is no additional monthly cost for access to the grid – making it much cheaper than outside the home charging. And when installation is done by a qualified tradesperson, the whole process takes just three hours to complete.
There’s also the option for car owners to install a ‘smart charger’ which is connected to the internet and gives the owner much more control over the charging process. Grants are also available for smart chargers, so that’s another financial bonus. Alongside this, homeowners that have already opted into greener home renovation initiatives such as solar panels, can harness their green energy supply to power their EV charger, ensuring it becomes part of a wider greener home ecosystem. With a smart meter fitted, car owners also have the option to charge their cars during off peak times, taking advantage of green energy.
And with the government’s recent announcement of a ‘Green Homes Grant’ coming into effect in September, which allows homeowners to claim vouchers worth up to £5,000 to pay for ‘green’ improvements such as loft, wall and floor insulations, it seems likely that the push towards sustainable home renovations is a trend that is set to continue throughout 2020 and beyond.
More broadly too, with the government’s ‘build, build, build’ Covid-19 recovery strategy now in place and a recent significant spike in the demand for trusted tradespeople, we’re hopeful that these green shoots will open up ever greater opportunities for the industry.
Mike Fairman, CEO, Checkatrade