Energy Efficiency Improvement: An Essential Step Towards a Greener Future
To reduce energy consumption, cut carbon emissions, and lower energy bills, the UK must focus on improving residential energy efficiency. The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), a leading construction sector professional body, emphasises the need for the government to support a National Retrofit Strategy, including a “Help to Fix” interest-free loan scheme that covers the full costs of home improvements related to energy efficiency.
Prior government initiatives such as the Green Homes Grant and Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) have fallen short due to various reasons, with homeowners being required to part fund energy efficiency work in a lump sum being a key barrier. Many could not afford such expenses, and this along with a current cost-of-living crisis, has deterred homeowners from participating.
If the take-up rate of BUS continues at the current pace, it is projected that only half of the allocated budget will be used. CIOB believes that a loan scheme covering complete home improvement costs, such as double glazing, insulation, new heating systems, and major jobs like loft conversions or extensions, is essential for helping homeowners boost energy efficiency and achieve the government’s carbon reduction targets.
Energy consumption in buildings accounts for 45% of the UK’s carbon emissions. The country possesses one of the oldest housing stocks in Europe, with the smallest proportion of homes built after 1970 and the second-highest proportion constructed before 1919. To effectively address this issue, a long-term strategy for retrofitting homes is required.
In addition to funding challenges, promotion, consumer confidence, and availability of skilled tradespeople have also hindered the success of previous energy efficiency schemes. For instance, over half of the UK adults surveyed in February 2023 had not heard of the BUS, Home Upgrade Grant, ECO Plus/ECO+ Scheme, or the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.
A comprehensive national retrofitting strategy should consider the following elements:
- Efficiency measures: Implementing energy-efficient lighting, insulation, heating systems, and appliances to reduce overall energy consumption.
- Energy performance certification: Provide homeowners with information on their property’s energy efficiency and recommendations for improvements.
- Training and investments: Develop a skilled workforce capable of carrying out retrofit upgrades and encourage investment in energy-efficient technologies.
- Clean energy sources: Promote renewable energy and decarbonisation efforts to reduce reliance on traditional fossil fuels.
- Transportation: Encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and efficient public transport systems.
To conclude, improving residential energy efficiency is vital for the UK’s future success in reducing energy consumption, cutting carbon emissions, and lowering energy bills. With the support of a national retrofit strategy and interest-free loan schemes, homeowners will be better equipped to make these essential home improvements and contribute to a greener, more sustainable future.