Retrofitting could save households £500 per year

New report highlights a lag in investment to support energy efficiency upgrades.

New research by IPPR, supported by Stonewater, has found that retrofitting the UK’s housing supply could save the average household £500 per year on their energy bills when the Government’s new energy price guarantee comes into effect in April 2023 – potentially reaching thousands of pounds for those in the worst insulated properties.

There are now an estimated 6.7 million households in fuel poverty – a figure that is expected to rise in April when the energy price guarantee ends. Retrofitting poorly insulated homes could provide a real lifeline to low-income families, and help achieve the Government’s Net Zero ambitions.

However, there is a significant funding gap that needs to be overcome to take advantage of this opportunity. While the Government has pledged new funding in recent months to support energy efficiency upgrades and the installation of low-carbon heat sources - such as heat pumps - the research finds that there is a £5.8bn gap in public investment between now and 2025 – when the new funding comes in.

This gap comes at a time where the UK is already severely behind schedule on its retrofit ambitions, with only 11% of heat pumps and 12% of cavity wall insulations that we need by 2028 to hit Net Zero targets having been installed to date.

The report follows the publication of the Chris Skidmore review on the Government’s progress towards Net Zero, which highlights the need for cleaner, greener homes as a key part of the Net Zero agenda.

The report calls for a new ‘one stop shop’ scheme to provide households with the information and financial support they need to make their homes more energy efficient and decarbonise their heating. The ‘GreenGo’ scheme would include:

  • GreenGo funding: To consolidate existing schemes and provide grants to upgrade homes with insulation, good-quality ventilation, and low-carbon heating
  • GreenGo communication: To raise awareness nationwide, with information about access to funding and a properly resourced energy advice service
  • GreenGo skills: To work with unions, businesses, and workers to develop high-quality job standards and provide training for both existing workers and new labour market entrants
  • GreenGo standards: To introduce regulations requiring an EPC rating of C in this decade for rented and owned homes, and oil and gas boiler phase outs
  • GreenGo street-by-street: To determine the most appropriate heat technologies for different areas, to identify and prioritise where improvements need to be made and to audit stock and monitor retrofitting activity.

Stonewater’s Chief Executive, Nicholas Harris said:

“A warm, well-insulated home is something that many of us take for granted. We all certainly agree it should be something everyone has access to.

“But for many – including those in the social housing sector – this has not been possible, and it’s a situation that has only been made worse through the cost-of-living and energy price crises. This winter has seen a real recognition of the challenges faced across society – and many of them have been tied into their housing situation.

“Urgent action is needed to decarbonise our homes. Without support and intervention, tenants will continue to live in inefficient homes with high energy bills, and we’ll see a repeat of this winter in the years to come. That is why we supported IPPR’s work and welcome its recommendations. I hope the Government takes this on board and acts now – before it is too late”.