In the UK, homes account for 13% of emissions, with this rising to 22% when electricity usage is taken into account. The average household energy consumption has fallen by 17% since 1990 but more still needs to be done to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.
Retrofitting involves the addition of new features to older housing such as better insulation, double or triple glazed windows and blocking drafts. As well as reducing energy consumption retrofitting can be hugely beneficial to the economy:
Improving a building’s energy efficiency has a considerable impact on its energy bills. The government (HM Government, 2017) estimates that upgrading a house from Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band E to band D will reduce energy bills by £380 per year.
Improvements in energy efficiency would also bring about higher levels of growth. A report by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (2017) shows that for every £1 invested in the energy efficiency of homes, GDP would be increased by £3.20. This makes it a more cost-effective way of stimulating the economy than cutting VAT or fuel duty, or investing in infrastructure projects such as HS2.
There is also potential for significant job creation. Cambridge Econometrics (2014) conducted research into retrofitting potential in the UK and found that insulating 6 million homes by 2025 would create 108 000 jobs across the UK.
The economy would be more resilient economy because it would be less reliant on fossil fuels. This means it would be less at risk to sudden changes in fuel prices.
The installation of loft and cavity wall insulation would reduce the health impact of cold homes. Community Action on Fuel Poverty estimates that the UK spends £22 billion in NHS treatment for cold related admissions.
The 2017 Conservative Manifesto recognised the economic benefits of retrofitting and committed to “improve the energy efficiency of existing homes, especially for the least well off, by committing to upgrading all fuel poor homes to EPC Band C by 2030”. However, the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group (EEIG) argue that to achieve this the government needs to double its annual investment to £1.3 billion.
What can I ask my MP to do to support more energy efficient buildings?
You could ask your MP to write to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy to highlight the economic benefits of retrofitting and suggest that it be incorporated into the government’s industrial strategy.
Your MP may be willing to work with and support your local council in retrofitting poor quality housing in your area.
Retrofitting has multiple benefits including lifting people out of fuel poverty. We also have a resource on fuel poverty; let us know if you would like us to send this to you.
Last updated: 24/04/2018