Improving insulation in Britain’s least efficient homes will bring many benefits

The UK government must expand support for most vulnerable households and ramp up retrofitting programme to prevent fuel poverty emergency, businesses and charities warn. Harry Cockburn explains in an article on The Independent website.

 

Insulation is ‘no regrets’ solution to the energy and climate crises, Boris Johnson told

Improving insulation on the UK’s least efficient homes would save households around £500 a year on energy bills, totalling £8bn a year nationally, the prime minister has been told by business organisations and charities.

The Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group, which includes companies and organisations such as the CBI, Energy Savings Trust, Rockwool, E.On and the WWF, said that amid the energy crisis, investment in improving energy efficiency in homes is “a permanent solution to high energy bills”.

The group is calling for a greater level of support for vulnerable households in order to prevent a fuel poverty emergency.

They have said the government should expand the Warm Homes Discount – which provides up to £140 off electricity bills over the winter, and should also maintain the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) levy, which funds insulation measures for low-income households.

The letter warns that any move to suspend ECO funding or to reduce it would be counterproductive and damaging for households and industry, stalling rates of action for making fuel-poor homes more energy efficient, putting green jobs at risk and keeping households hooked on expensive gas.

It also urges the government to accelerate the investment programme to bring all homes up to band C on an Energy Performance Certificate.

The signatories said that bringing the least efficient homes up to this level would save each household over £500 per year, resulting in an aggregate saving of £7.8bn per year of disposable income which could then be spent elsewhere in the economy.

They also said existing funding allocated for grants for heat pumps should also be increased from £400m to £4.15bn by 2025 to accelerate the transition away from gas heating.

Sarah Kostense-Winterton, chair of the EEIG said: “The cost-of-living crisis is being driven by soaring gas prices. A permanent solution to lower bills is through reducing demand through energy efficiency measures.

“Emergency short-term measures for the most vulnerable households are crucial in the short-term, but it’s fundamental for the government to simultaneously focus on the long-term through accelerating green homes measures to avoid futures crises.”

She added: “Green home retrofits have significant social, environmental and economic co-benefits, and stand out as a ‘no regrets’ solution to the energy crisis, climate crisis, and levelling up agenda.”

EEIG member, Nigel Donohue, the chief executive of the Insulation Assurance Authority, said: “Britain has the coldest and leakiest housing stock in western Europe, leaving families particularly exposed to sharp global spikes in gas prices. Energy efficiency schemes such as the Energy Company Obligation are helping end fuel poverty, reduce emissions and support green jobs across the country.

“Reducing funding for energy efficiency schemes at this time would be a self-defeating move which puts green jobs at risk and could significantly damage the energy efficiency market. Instead, the long-term solution is to double-down on net zero.”

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