Report: Energy upgrades for homes could deliver £135bn boon for UK
According to a new report from the Building Research Establishment (BRE), improving England's poorest housing could generate £135.5bn in societal benefits over the next 30 years, including reduced carbon emissions.
The BRE report highlights that by improving homes that fall below the minimum standard for hazards to an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C within 30 years, a potential reduction of 97 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be achieved.
BRE’s chief executive officer Gillian Charlesworth said: “Our analysis is a clear signal to policymakers that investing in the health and safety of England’s poor housing will deliver significant, long-term economic and societal benefits.
“Improving poor housing has huge implications for the life chances of the families who live in those homes, and benefits to society as a whole. But our research shows there is much more than a moral case for tackling unsafe homes. There is also a powerful economic argument for England and the UK to deliver the improvements needed, through targeted and timely programmes of work to reap the financial payback.”
The latest data from the English Housing Survey reveals that there are roughly 65,000 damp and mouldy homes, which are considered Category 1 health and safety (HHSRS) hazards. The required remedial works for these homes amount to £250m.
Homes with Category 1 damp problems, when improved, could save 4,068kg of carbon emissions annually. By improving the state of Category 1 damp and mouldy homes, an average of 264,420 tonnes of CO2 emissions can be saved annually, according to the BRE report.
The report further notes that approximately 2.4 million homes in England, accounting for 10% of the housing stock, still fall below the minimum standards for habitability.
The cost of making these 2.4 million poor homes healthy and safe, by eliminating all Category 1 hazards, is estimated to be around £9bn. However, investing in such improvements would yield benefits, not only in terms of reduced energy costs and carbon emissions, but also for the occupants’ well-being.
Immediate action to address poor housing conditions would result in savings to the NHS that would recoup the investment in less than nine years. Furthermore, projecting the costs and benefits over a 30-year period suggests that early intervention could save approximately £136bn (including £13bn for the NHS) compared to the existing trend.
Currently, around 46% of the UK’s housing stock is meeting EPC C or above, compared to just 9% in 2008. The amount of social housing meeting this requirement has risen by 18% to 66% in the same timeframe, according to the Government.
Analysis from the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit last year found that homes rated EPC ‘F’ were likely to have annual gas bills around £1,000 higher in 2020 than those rated ‘C’ or higher.
Earlier this year, the UK Government confirmed how it will be allocating almost £2bn of funding to improve the energy efficiency of more than 115,000 homes.
Funding is provided for things like double and triple glazing, wall insulation and loft insulation. The Government claims that the average home benefitting from the scheme will see its annual energy bills decreasing by between £220 and £400.
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