UK significantly off-track to meet household energy goals

The UK Government is not on track to reduce energy demand from households by 2030, with new research finding that six million homes need to be insulated and a further 1.5 million need to be fitted with heat pumps.

UK significantly off-track to meet household energy goals

New research from WWF and Scottish Power found that the Government looks set to miss a target to reduce energy demand from households by 15% by 2030, based on current policies.

The 15% reduction, which was announced in last year’s Autumn Statement, would require six million homes to be fitted with insulation. However, current policies look set to deliver insulation retrofits for 1.1 million homes by 2030.

The research, carried out by Frontier Economics, also warns that 1.5 million homes need to be fitted with heat pumps and a further 600,000 need to be connected to heat networks.

The research also takes into account Ofgem’s latest energy price cap. It found that homes fitted with low-carbon solutions like solar panels and energy-saving technologies could save up to £2,300 on their energy bills annually, compared to homes without.

WWF’s head of climate policy Isabella O’Dowd said: “We know insulating homes protects consumers from high energy bills and we can’t wait until winter – summer is the time to fix the roof. With our homes accounting for 16% of the UK’s carbon emissions, the UK Government must act now and tell us how it will insulate the extra five million homes it needs to keep us on track to meet its green ambitions and drive down bills.

“Insulating millions more homes is vital for the Government to meet its energy efficiency target and could benefit households to the tune of hundreds of pounds every year.”

Stretching targets

The report notes that while progress against the 15% target is faltering, the UK may even need to increase it to 20% by the end of the decade. This, the report argues, would be closer to what has been recommended in the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) Net-Zero Balanced Pathway.

If the UK were to aim for a 20% target by 2030, an additional 5.4 million homes would require insulation upgrades, 1.4 million homes would need to be fitted with heat pumps and the same amount would need to be connected to a heat network.

The CCC notes that there has been “no sustained” reduction in emissions from buildings in the last decade and that plans to change this are “not yet fully comprehensive or complete and significant delivery risks remain for many policy areas” that are listed in the Heat and Buildings Strategy.

One of the flagship targets facing the sector is an aim to ensure that as many buildings as possible reach the Energy Performance Certificate band C bracket by 2035. However, the CCC notes that current policy is insufficient to achieve this goal”, with around two-thirds of relevant buildings currently meeting this goal.

Within the past 18 months, the £1bn Green Homes Grant closed with the majority of its budget unspent. Initiatives have remained in place for social housing and public sector buildings, but the Government has faced continued calls for a new national retrofit programme for homes. Such a programme has not been announced, despite chances for this to have happened – most recently, through the Energy Security Strategy and Energy Security Bill.

Research published by Bankers for Net Zero and the Green Finance Institute, claims that an estimated 28 million homes must be retrofitted with low-carbon solutions if the UK is to meet net-zero emissions by 2050.

The retrofit industry consists mainly of SMEs and this sector will need to grow by at least a factor of 10 to deliver the required levels of retrofits. The paper calls for a “clear plan” for the industry to be introduced by Government. There is also the small detail of overcoming a £360bn investment gap and ensuring that households aren’t locked out from low-carbon solutions due to a cost premium.

Comments (1)

  1. Rob Heap says:

    I suspect that people didn’t lock into the Green Homes Grant because they found that “approved” contractors were inflating prices. The first question I was asked when approaching contractors for quotes to re-install new insulation material in my loft was “Are you applying for the Green Homes Grant?” Sometimes I said yes, other times I said no. The quotes from contractors where I said yes were over twice the cost of those where I said no.
    I decided to undertake the work myself, using eco friendly natural sheep’s wool insulation and I saved myself more than three times the money that it was going to cost me under the grant scheme – and I knew the job was done properly.
    Until there is accountability for contractors costs, profits and quality of workmanship, our money is being wasted by HM Government and the only winners are the contractors. Grant schemes like these should be operated on an open book + 15% profit basis and the work must be checked and signed off by an independent professional surveyor.

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