The cost-of-living crisis has severely impacted some families’ ability to be environmentally friendly. With many panicking and buying whatever they can, climate awareness has sometimes fallen to the wayside. However, one firm looking to ensure this does not happen is Snugg.
Snugg is an Edinburgh-based tech start-up. Its online platform helps people to improve their home’s energy efficiency. By analysing a property’s current and potential performance, the platform creates a personalised improvement plan, recommends trusted installers and, importantly, connects users to appropriate financing options for their needs.
Robin Peters is the CEO and co-founder of Snugg. Qualified as an engineer and following an MBA, he moved into strategic development roles in consulting and industry, working and living in seven different countries in as many years.
He moved back to the UK as his children reached school age and began his career in financial services – in insurance and retail banking. In Aviva, the UK insurer, he was co-leader of the team that established the Aviva UK digital business (£1.4billion revenue). He has always wanted to lead a startup and Snugg has given him this opportunity.
What problem was your company set up to solve?
Many people want to improve their home’s energy efficiency, but the process can be confusing, complicated and costly. Snugg exists to solve this problem.
Homes in the UK rank amongst the worst in Europe for energy efficiency, and over a fifth of the UK’s emissions come from its houses. This needs to change if the country is to make the necessary progress to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050.
Snugg helps homeowners across the UK to make their properties more energy efficient in a way that is easy and affordable and meets the needs of each individual customer. Not only could this save them money, it could in fact make them money.
For example, our Bristol report found that the city’s homeowners could save £91million every year on their energy bills if they improved the energy efficiency of their homes. Our research in Edinburgh found it could be as high as £95million. We found that improving a home’s energy efficiency has a direct impact on market valuation and could increase the value of a home by over £15,000.
Since launch, how has your company evolved?
I founded Snugg with my business partner Neil Sevensen in 2022.
I was inspired by my daughter’s passionate concern about climate change. With my background in engineering, I decided to take a step away from the corporate world and centre my work around positive environmental impact and as a result, Snugg was born.
Neil and I wanted to make energy efficiency an easy choice. Anyone in the UK can go onto the website and enter their postcode. This generates an energy-efficiency analysis based on a number of sources, for example, an energy performance certificate (EPC).
We then recommend tailored energy efficiency solutions, trusted local installers and the available grants and financing options on offer. It was important to us that the platform offers unbiased advice so that we point people to the solutions that are right for them. Our model means we grow through partnerships with installers, and financial institutions, rather than benefiting from recommending one energy-efficiency solution or installer over another.
This model supports banks and building societies to reduce the emissions they indirectly contribute through their mortgages and ultimately support the UK in reaching net zero.
Last year we raised £1.2million in our first seed funding round which has given us huge momentum to develop our technologies and scale in the last year. More recently, in May 2023, we secured a £171,000 grant from the Green Home Finance Accelerator (GHFA) funded through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio by the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero. The GHFA is a UK Government initiative that supports the development of innovative green finance products.
That funding is helping us develop our new Green Home Hub – a digital platform, separate from the Snugg website. It is designed to work with partners, such as banks and energy providers, with the goal of helping homeowners make their homes more energy-efficient.
What has been the biggest challenge or most ‘tricky moment’ to overcome?
Due to competing priorities, it has been difficult to get banks to the point of signing deals and has taken a while to get them engaged. However, by securing seed funding last year and government recognition this year, we are now demonstrating that we’re a serious player with the platform to drive real change for energy efficiency – as a result, we have been engaging with 70 per cent of mortgage lending banks already.
Due to a general lack of knowledge which has led to a lack of trust in energy efficiency measures like heat pumps, encouraging customers to proceed through the entire journey has also been a real challenge. As time goes on, we intend to continue building trust among consumers and encourage more people to make energy-efficiency retrofits to their homes.
What are your biggest achievements or ‘proudest moments’ so far?
The GHFA has been a key milestone for Snugg this year, and one of our proudest moments so far. It’s a massive vote of confidence for the business. We’re proud to be contributing to the UK’s mission of achieving net zero by 2050. Joining forces with EDF, Heat Save Scotland and recently TSB Innovation Labs have also been key highlights of our journey so far.
This year, we’ve launched a number of partnerships in rapid succession – with more to come. Just this month, we partnered with the world’s oldest remaining building society, the Scottish Building Society. Snugg will be available to all SBS members – with SBS offering members potential financing options.
How would you describe the culture of your company?
We are sharers. Dealing with the climate emergency effectively needs a collaborative approach and we are embracing the opportunity. We are making full use of the connections we have with academic, government and innovation partners through our membership of the Bayes Centre and we are actively engaging with banks, industry bodies, utilities, installers and local community groups to fit our product to their needs. We see the expert digital UX we bring as a brilliant complement to the deep technical expertise of industry incumbents.
Everything we do is agile at its core, although we tend not to use the term as it is so embedded in the way we do business. As a start-up, we can do things in a fraction of the time that larger businesses can. For instance, we identified, selected and set up a new development partner in four working days – something that would take a corporate several months at least.
We love what we do. It’s fun (and sometimes stressful!) working in a start-up, but we know we are working on an important challenge and we love sharing our enthusiasm with the people we work with.
What’s in store for the future?
It’s a really busy and exciting time for Snugg. In just over a year, we have partnered with an array of influential organisations and received backing from the UK government. Our ambition is to partner with the big banks in the near future.
We plan to continue working directly with financial services providers and utilities as well as other partners including government, councils and charities. This will help to ensure a wider range of financing options are available to people who want to cut carbon emissions and to transition their properties to sustainable heating solutions.
Ultimately, Snugg is aiming to help over 500k homeowners in the UK on their decarbonisation journey. We are working to broaden and deepen our offer, increasing the sophistication of the platform and its ability to connect people with grants, provide a house valuation tool. We also have an eye on expanding internationally.
Although Snugg has made a lot of progress in the last year, we are still at the start of our journey. Huge change needs to happen before 2030 if the UK is to be on track to be a net zero economy by 2050, and we know that a big part of this begins in people’s homes.