UK could rescue energy efficient homes policy with few key steps

26th September 2017 | Commercial Energy

Progress in making Britain’s homes more energy efficient has stalled, but the government could salvage billions in wastage by taking a few key steps, a new report with wide backing has found.
Ministers are preparing a new “clean growth” plan after the scrapping of the green deal, which left the UK without a government policy on making homes more energy efficient and tackling fuel poverty.

Ministers have also abandoned regulations for all new homes to be constructed to zero-carbon standards, leaving housebuilders with little obligation to build new homes to energy efficient specifications. As a result, the rapid improvements to efficiency in the UK’s housing stock seen before 2015 have stalled.

Now a new report, Affordable Warmth, clean growth written by Frontier Economics, has won the backing of more than 20 organisations, including green campaigners, thinktanks, companies selling insulation and services, and the energy companies Eon and Npower.

The 88-page report recommends:

  • Reinstating a requirement for new homes to be zero carbon by 2020
  • Bringing all existing homes up to an energy performance rating of C, midway on the current A to G scale, by 2035
  • Assisting all low-income households to achieve such a rating by 2030, through subsidies
  • Changing stamp duty to offer rebates on buying homes that are improved to a good standard
  • Tax break for private sector landlords who install efficiency measures, such as insulation
  • 50% subsidies to social sector landlords, such as housing associations, which make their housing stock more energy efficient

In the decade from 2004 to 2015, gas consumption for typical dual fuel households fell by 37% and electricity usage by 18%. This was in part because of the installation of insulation, but also improvements in technology, such as new boilers and new lightbulbs.

However, after the demise of the green deal in 2015, there has been a halving of the annual investment in domestic energy efficiency, and an 80% decline in the number of improvement measures installed in homes between 2012 and 2015.

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