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25 Million Homes Must Be Insulated in the UK

Experts have stated that more than one UK home each minute will have to be refurbished between now and 2050 in order to reach environmental targets.

According to the authors of a recent report to Parliament, 25 million existing homes will not meet new standards of home insulation as stricter regulations come in over the next 30 years.

Emissions in the UK need to be cut by 80% by 2050, and one-third of these emissions come from heat lost in draughty buildings. The Green Building Council has issued a report saying that four out of five homes that will be in use by 2050 have already been constructed, and most do not have the necessary levels of insulation to reach these future targets.

The government has indicated that policies would be devised as soon as possible, but critics insist that ministers have been too slow to apply a national home renovation programme. Such an undertaking would save on costs and improve overall happiness, comfort, and health. Thousands of jobs would also be created.

Local authorities have invested in insulating some council homes, but private homeowners have been reluctant to invest a lot of money in projects that will save costs but take a long time to pay off. Even though the UK has some of the lowest energy prices in Europe, bills remain high due to poor insulation.

The authors of the report say that the challenge to meet the 80% reduction target also offers a prime opportunity under the infrastructure agenda of the current government. The business of insulating roofs, floors, and walls creates more jobs and has more benefits than any other infrastructure project.

 

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There remain concerns over how it can be funded however. The Green Deal government scheme fell apart after a storm of criticism that insulation interest rates were too high, and that the insulation presented too many complications.

The government has not provided a replacement solution to increase owner-occupier demand for refurbishments. The Treasury does not want to provide public funds to upgrades that will increase the sale price of private residences.

The report recommended the following strategies:

  • Refurbishing buildings according to staged targets
  • Reintroducing the ‘zero-carbon’ building standards
  • Making energy efficiency a national priority
  • Increasing home energy standards
  • Requiring commercial buildings to indicate energy usage

The report stated that the construction industry needs to know what it is expected to produce and a way of measuring what has been already built. It said that innovation should consequently be stimulated.

GBC head Julie Hirigoyen stated that upgrading building stock benefited everyone. She pointed out that people will have lower bills and warmer homes and both carbon emissions and climate change will be addressed. Ms Hirigoyen added that thousands of jobs would be created.

She explained that increasing the demand for retrofits was important for any policy to succeed. The Green Deal indicated that financial incentives were not the only solution: everything needed to be made attractive and affordable, and apparently the business community was now recognising an opportunity.

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