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UK Government outlines plan to create more energy-efficient homes

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Through a series of articles, Electrical Review will break down the key ways in which the Government plans to meet its net zero ambitions. In this article, we’ll explore how UK homes are set to become more energy efficient. 

The UK Government has committed in law that the country will achieve net zero emissions by 2050, with it now releasing its plan to achieve that goal.

Ever since the launch of the Green Homes Grant last year, energy efficient homes have been top of the agenda. That’s because they are seen as key to achieving net zero emissions, as energy efficient homes use less power and ditch polluting technologies such as gas boilers. 

While it’s safe to say the Green Homes Grant was a flop, the Government is keen to try again in spurring a green revolution in the UK’s housing stock. Central to this plan is a new grant available to homeowners that will get them to ditch natural gas boilers for heat pumps. 

Homeowners will be able to apply for £5,000 capital grants towards the installation of a new heat pump. However, many in the industry have already argued that this figure is woefully inadequate as it won’t cover the necessary upgrades that need to be made – such as the installation of new radiators or cover the cost of replacing a gas boiler in the first place. 

Not only does the £5,000 not stretch far enough, but the Government has readily admitted that the £450 million it has set aside under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme won’t be enough to cover the entirety of the UK’s housing stock. In fact, only 90,000 homeowners will be covered by those funds – the rest will seemingly have to pay out of pocket, unless the scheme is extended further. 

That 90,000 is far below the 600,000 installations the Government hopes the industry will achieve every year by 2028. 

There is another lever at the Government’s disposal to spur the phase-out of gas boilers, and it’s a lever it will pull in 2035 – when new gas boilers will be banned. The hope is that by 2030, heat pumps will reduce in cost to be on par with a new gas boiler, and upgrading won’t be a problem for homeowners, however, this is something that our Gossage columnist believes to be unlikely. 

Of course it’s not just about ditching gas boilers, the UK building’s will also need other upgrades to meet minimum energy performance targets. This includes a commitment by the Government to: 

  • Upgrading fuel poor homes to EPC Band C by 2030 where reasonably practicable.
  • Additional funding to the Home Upgrade Grant and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund – investing £1.75 billion. 
  • Consulting on phasing in higher minimum performance standards to ensure all homes meet EPC Band C by 2035, where cost-effective, practical and affordable. 
  • Setting long-term regulatory standards to upgrade privately rented homes to EPC C by 2028 and considering setting a long-term regulatory standard for social housing, subject to consultation. 
  • Reducing the energy consumption in commercial and industrial buildings in England and Wales by 2030, using measures including regulations and a performance-based measurement scheme. 
  • Investing a further £1.425 billion in the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, with the aim of reducing direct emissions from public sector buildings by 75% by 2037. 
  • Setting a minimum energy efficiency standard of EPC Band B by 2030 for privately rented commercial buildings in England and Wales.

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