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New inquiry: Energy efficiency of existing homes

18 May 2020

As it continues to explore how to meet net-zero by 2050, the Environmental Audit Committee launches its inquiry into Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes.

There are around 29 million homes with considerable potential to improve their energy efficiency, which would result in boosting household incomes, alleviating fuel poverty and cutting carbon emissions. Homes account for just under 30% of energy use and are responsible for around 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.  

The Government has stalled in its progress towards making homes across the UK more energy efficient. Despite its Manifesto pledge of £9.2 billion to drive improvements in homes, schools and hospitals, the Government has not yet brought forward policies or allocated funding to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes. There are over 10 million owner occupied households below the Energy Performance Certificate band C. This is the market where the largest carbon savings can be made yet there are no incentives for this market to grow.  

If the challenge is taken up of decarbonising existing homes, it offers an opportunity for the Government to build a domestic supply chain and skills base, while delivering on its levelling up ambitions. 

Improving the energy efficiency of homes will also help alleviate fuel poverty, which affects around 2.53 million households in England alone. Fuel poverty targets are being routinely missed, risking the health of vulnerable people and putting additional pressure on the NHS during the winter months.  

Chair's comments

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Philip Dunne MP, said: 

“Homes with poor energy standards should have no place in 21st Century Britain. But there are still too many homes across the country that fail to meet the Government's own target of EPC rating C – resulting in higher bills and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. 

“It is unfortunate that despite its promises, the Government has yet to act in bringing forward policies that could transform the energy efficiency of homes. The contribution this could make to improving emissions reduction is very significant, but the scale of the challenge is vast. The Government should act quickly to address this – doing so could save lives, provide a major boost to economic recovery across the country, and put the UK in a stronger position to meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.” 

The inquiry will be following up findings of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee during their 2019 inquiry Energy Efficiency. The BEIS Committee warned that the UK stands no chance of meeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 unless action is taken to address energy efficiency policy. 

Terms of reference 

The Committee is inviting written submissions on: 

  • Are the Government's targets on residential energy efficiency still appropriate to achieve its ambition to reach net zero emissions by 2050?
    What are the potential risks and opportunities of bringing forward the Government's energy efficiency target?
    Should Government targets for energy efficiency be legislated for, and if so, what difference would this make? 
  • How effective is the EPC rating at measuring energy efficiency? Are there any alternative methodologies that could be used? What are the challenges for rural areas?  
  • How will lack of progress on residential energy efficiency impact the decarbonisation of heat and the associated costs of this?  
  • How can the Government frame a Covid-19 stimulus strategy around improved energy efficiency of homes?  
  • Is the £5 million Green Home Finance Innovation Fund enough to stimulate the market for and drive action from the banks to encourage owner occupiers to improve the energy efficiency of their homes?
    What policy and/or regulation could supplement it?
    Which models in other countries have been successful at stimulating demand for energy efficiency within this market? 
  • What additional policy interventions are needed for social housing, leaseholders, landlords and tenants? 
  • How should the proposed Home Upgrade Grant Scheme be delivered to help the fuel poor? Should the new grant scheme supplement ECO in its current form, or should ECO be redesigned? 
  • Are there examples of where energy efficiency policy has fallen between Government Departments? How could cross-departmental coordination be improved? 

Oral evidence sessions will be announced in due course. 

Further information

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