12 Sep 2022
The UK has some of the coldest and costliest homes to heat in Europe. Draughty homes waste energy and money. They’re also bad for the planet – 80% of our homes are run on climate-wrecking gas, and a fifth of the UK’s climate emissions come from heating our homes and buildings.
It's clear we need a new approach to heating our homes – one that doesn’t cost us the Earth. Thankfully, there are solutions. Measures like installing insulation could help reduce our bills up to 20% and keep our homes warmer.
What’s insulation and how will it lower our bills?
Insulation helps reduce the heat your home loses when it’s cold outside. It’s the cheapest and quickest way to permanently lower all of our bills, because it helps trap warmth inside and so reduces the amount of energy we need in the first place. But because of the upfront cost, or our housing situation, many of us can’t make the necessary changes on our own.
It’s critical the government starts investing in insulation now to prevent devastating choices over the coming months and years. There are approximately 8 million homes in the UK in need of loft or cavity wall insulation, or both. Each of these measures is estimated to save approximately 20% on household energy bills. A home that undergoes both upgrades could save around 40%. With average household bills soaring into the thousands, that’s a serious saving!
What are we calling for?
A rapid programme of basic insulation measures
United for Warm Homes is calling for emergency programmes of insulation and energy-saving measures, funded by the UK government. Different approaches might be needed in different nations, but in England this should be council-led and delivered street-by-street. A street-by-street approach will ensure the insulation programme is as efficient as possible, and increase take-up.
The programme should start in neighbourhoods that are most affected by fuel poverty, as identified in our energy crisis hotspot data. By doing this, we can help as many people as possible stay warm during the cold winter months. The programme should be free of charge to all households in low-income neighbourhoods, and it should also include rented properties, as private renters are disproportionately affected by fuel poverty.
Measures should include:
- loft and cavity wall insulation
- thermostatic radiator valves
- smart heating controls
- energy audits, to help determine which improvements would be best for which homes.
We’re asking for a £15 billion programme, spread over 3 years to ensure basic insulation is urgently implemented across the UK.
In the devolved nations, this funding should be used to deliver insulation programmes in the ways that best suit their needs. See our asks for the Welsh Government.
Deeper retrofits to bring all homes up to EPC C standard
The basic measures outlined above will be an important short-term response, but deeper retrofits such as double glazing, solid wall insulation and heat pumps will be necessary in the longer term to ensure warm homes and reduced emissions. Such retrofits should mean all homes have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above.
There’s a range of ways these deeper retrofits can be implemented, including via financial incentives and regulations for those able to pay. However, there must also be grants available for those unable to pay to ensure they can reap the benefits of more efficient housing too.
In addition, policies must address the shortage of a skilled workforce available to implement these retrofits. The government must commit to long-term policy measures to ensure employers invest in skills and training going forward.
We’re calling for a total average annual investment of £8 billion a year over the next decade to ensure both a rapid programme of basic insulation and these deeper retrofits can be implemented.
Upgrading our homes would help everyone to live in a warm, comfortable home that doesn’t cost the Earth. But for more than a decade, the government has failed to get a grip of the problem.
As bills soar and millions face hardship, it’s time to unite and show the government that the public demands better. Will you and your group work with your local community and demand the government insulates your neighbourhood and neighbourhoods across the country from high bills and cold homes?