That was the warning from Dr Brenda Boardman, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.

Speaking at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on Wednesday, Dr Boardman said that people who were in fuel poverty were not being given enough help to radically reduce their bills.

Meanwhile Government grants for low-carbon improvements such as microgeneration were being dished out to people who had already been able to pay to make their homes more energy efficient, she said.

“What I want to try to do is to make sure that low income households get low carbon homes,” Dr Boardman said.

“I think there’s a real risk at the moment that the only people with low carbon homes are going to be the rich.”

She called for Ministers to revolutionise policies to boost energy efficiency in homes and to help the fuel poor.

Energy Performance Certificates could be used to identify the worst performing homes and the people who are in the most need of help to bring down their bills, Dr Boardman proposed.

“I think we need to start targeting people with the least efficient homes,” she said. “We need a database [of EPCs].

“We can’t just rely on those from when a house is sold. We also need to generate an EPC when there’s a Warm Front visit or a building regulations approval and then that should be given to the local authority.”

Conservative estimates suggest that 70% of the UK’s existing housing stock will still be in use by 2050, when the Climate Change Bill will require overall greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by at least 80%. Other estimates suggest it could be more than 90% of current housing.

Kate Martin

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