100 years to make UK homes fully green

As the Government prepares to release its plan to reduce carbon emissions, new data reveals that the rate of insulating homes would need to triple to meet commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. In a new report called ‘Getting the house in order – Priorities for homes in the Clean Growth Plan’, the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) says that it would take 100 years to make UK homes green at the current rate of installing insulation and low carbon heating.

Homes account for 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and WWF believes that addressing these rising emissions should be a priority for the Government’s forthcoming Clean Growth Plan.

According to WWF, there is public support for greening up the nation’s homes, as shown in new polling carried out by Populus on behalf of WWF. It found that 86% of people believe that saving energy in the home is important, and 69% are likely to check energy costs before buying or renting a home. The poll also found that 72% of people would insulate their homes if there was a government subsidy available.

The Government is expected to publish its Clean Growth Plan in September, outlining how it will reduce UK emissions. WWF says it must triple the speed at which existing homes are insulated to ensure that four million are improved by 2025, however the Government is not showing support to make this change. 

WWF is calling on the UK Government to deliver a robust and urgently needed Clean Growth Plan. This plan must address public concerns and it needs to:

  • Set a long term target to improve the energy efficiency of all homes
  • Fix loopholes that will allow landlords to continue to rent out the coldest properties
  • Tighten standards to  prevent the continued construction of high-carbon new homes
  • Provide new incentives to encourage householders to make improvements to their homes
  • Fund future fuel poverty schemes from capital budgets and double annual funding in England to enable the fuel poverty eradication target to be met

Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Energy and Climate at WWF, says: “This report brings home the huge challenge we face if we are to meet our climate obligations. This winter too many people will be living in cold homes that leak and waste energy. This is piling hundreds of pounds onto people’s fuel bills, as well as damaging their health, and ruining out planet.

“Last year was the hottest on record.  And with extreme weather and flooding costing lives and livelihoods from Bangladesh to Texas, we are all seeing the effects of climate change. The UK Government needs to take seriously their international obligations. Stopping climate change should start at home – in fact, it should start in people’s homes. The Clean Growth Plan must prioritise giving support to people to make sure their homes use as little energy as possible; otherwise, our homes really will cost the earth.

“Insulating UK homes to the recommended standard by 2025 would not only save the equivalent emissions of taking 1.7 million cars off roads, but would wipe over half a billion pounds from domestic energy bills each year – equivalent to £25 per household, and as much as £165 for the homes where improvements are made. As well as tackling emissions it would make homes warmer and healthier, and double the rate at which fuel poor households are lifted out of poverty.”

John Alker, Policy and Campaign Director at UK-Green Building Council, adds:

“Decarbonising the building stock is crucial to tackling climate change but the current lack of policy certainty is undermining business confidence and investment. The upcoming Clean Growth Plan is an opportunity for the Government to set out a clear and ambitious vision for transitioning to a low carbon economy over the next fifteen years.

“Achieving the UK’s carbon targets will mean retrofitting more than one home every minute and building high quality new homes which produce as much energy as they use. With the right long term policy framework these objectives can drive innovation in the construction industry and offer huge opportunities for new markets and jobs in energy efficiency. Low carbon buildings will be warmer, healthier and cheaper to run, helping to drive productivity for businesses and transform the lives of residents.”

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