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Improving 13 million of UK’s energy inefficient homes could deliver £39m boost by 2030

Citizens Advice says its report shows that insulating our homes is “a long-term solution that makes running the NHS cheaper and boosts quality of life”
06 July 2023 , Kerry Taylor-Smith

Government says English homes with EPC rating of C or above is up from 14% in 2010 to 47% in 2022, with an additional 300,000 inefficient homes in line for improvement 

Over 15 million homes in the UK are energy inefficient and, according to Citizens Advice, 13 million of these could be improved to EPC C standards, delivering a £39 billion boost via a range of economic and social benefits by 2030.

The charity is calling for a comprehensive retrofitting program to bring all homes up to this standard, funded by public and private investments. The move could slash consumers' bills by nearly £24 million, tackle health inequalities, and help the UK reach net zero targets. 

Rebecca Pickavance, Policy Officer at Energy Saving Trust said the research demonstrates the value of investing in improving the energy efficiency of UK homes: “Energy Saving Trust supports the findings and calls for a major national retrofit programme for the 13 million homes which have the potential to be upgraded. This would improve the health and comfort of millions of people while reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy security.”

According to the Citizens Advice research, improving insulation could impact public health, preventing over 650,000 new cases of childhood asthma and respiratory conditions from affecting millions of people. It could also stop 57,000 children and adults developing mental health conditions linked to cold homes, reducing school and work absenteeism due to illness. The number of people out of work due to ongoing health conditions could also be lowered, while patient numbers could be reduced by 30% for conditions worsened by a cold home, saving the NHS £2 billion by 2030. 

“The cost-of-living crisis highlights the urgent need to improve the standard of our housing stock.” 

“Cold and damp homes can lead to serious respiratory conditions, exacerbate mental health conditions and are attributed to higher deaths in winter,” said David Finch, Assistant Director for Healthy Lives at the Health Foundation. “The cost-of-living crisis highlights the urgent need to improve the standard of our housing stock. Poorly insulated housing costs more to keep warm. High energy bills squeeze household incomes leaving less to spend on other essentials that support good health.”

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said the impact of raising minimum energy standards “would be profound”.

She said: “This report shows that insulating our homes is about so much more than reducing energy bills. It’s a long-term solution that makes running the NHS cheaper and boosts quality of life in areas that need it most. The government must make improving our draughty homes a top priority.”

In Autumn 2022, the government announced a £1.5bn insulation scheme for low-income households, under which 130,000 homes across England could be eligible for external wall and loft insulation, energy-efficient doors and windows, heat pumps and solar panels. Additionally, the Great British Insulation Scheme (previously ECO+) will offer insulation to the least energy-efficient homes to tackle fuel poverty and reduce energy usage.

"The government’s record on energy efficiency speaks for itself, with the proportion of homes in England with an EPC rating of C or above up from 14% in 2010 to 47% in 2022,” said a Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson. 

“What’s more, an additional 300,000 of the UK’s least energy efficient homes are in line for improvement under the new Great British Insulation Scheme, and we have committed £6.6bn towards upgrades this parliament, plus a further £6 billion from 2025.” 

Image credit: Shutterstock

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