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£23bn needed to decarbonise millions of problem homes over the next decade

Published June 14, 2022

£23bn needed to decarbonise millions of problem homes over the next decade

The government needs to spend £23 billion over the next 10 years on improving energy efficiency in England’s housing stock to reduce energy bills, a report from an association of housing sector organisations has concluded.

The report from the Building Back Britain Commission reveals the enormous challenge of decarbonising the UK’s ageing housing stock. In the average English local authority, 58% of homes are below an EPC rating C and the cost of getting all homes up to this standard is likely to be at least £200billion.

The report found that energy efficiency improvements, such as installing cavity wall insulation, solar panels or heat pumps, is only worth doing in properties valued at more than £162,000. If the home is worth less than that, the cost of the work would exceed the potential house price gain.

The issue is most acute in local authorities identified as part of the government’s ‘Levelling Up’ programme. In these, more than one third of homes are priced below £162,000, compared to less than one in 10 in non-levelling up areas

The research found there are 2.3 million homes across England which are valued under £162,000, have an EPC rating below C and are located in ‘levelling up’ areas. If government money were targeted at these homes, it would have the greatest impact on reducing energy bills for the poorest households.

The Commission urged the government to put funding from the existing £9.2billion for energy efficiency measures towards the retrofit of these homes over the next decade. Doing so would create long term certainty that would kick start the development of a Great British supply chain in retrofit and energy efficiency technology and services.

Seyed Ebrahimi, Alfa Energy’s principal consultant, sustainability strategy, is already thinking of ways to address the issue: “In the UK, nearly 20% of total GHG emissions are from households and that number increased by 10% last year when everyone was under lockdown. Getting households in the UK from an EPC rating of E to D, or D to C is a huge challenge, but worth it when you take emissions from households into account. One way to address this is by looking at industrial /urban symbiosis opportunities. In other words, connecting existing infrastructure from the urban side with the industrial side. This aims to improve resource efficiency through local/regional collaboration. Special focus is given to the valorisation of insufficiently used energy and material resources, which could be utilised by other supply chain actors (i.e., by-products and waste). Furthermore, collaboration could also include connecting common infrastructure systems to supply services and supplies. A good example would be public facilities, such as gyms, hotels, schools, and universities, which require 24-hour hot water and heating and connecting these to recycling centres that burn waste that must be landfilled. The heat generated in the furnace could be used to boil water (passing pipes) and transferred to such building infrastructure. All that is needed is a feasibility study and appetite or initiatives from city councils.”