Payback lags averaging ten years on the builders’ bills needed to improve Europe’s leakiest homes are putting the Johnson government’s 2050 Net Zero goal in peril, consultants PWC have found.
Householders in London, the South East and the North West could benefit most from national co-ordinated action to plug upgrade privately owned or rented homes to EPC Grade C, say the consultants, publishing before World Environment Day.
Johnson intends his revision of the Conservatives’ 2018 Clean Growth Strategy to be that action.
Yet high builders’ bills, those regions’ concentrations of private landlords, and overall poor standard of the nation’s housing stock, increase its likelihood of failure, PWC’s report implies.
PWC calculates owner occupiers and renters would save £9.5 billion every year in heating bills, if money were found to upgrade all homes to EPC grade C. Reaching that goal would eliminate 52 million tonnes of CO2, or around 16% of the nation’s total.
The consultants surveyed 1,000 occupiers about past actions or plans for insulating Britain’s homes. Over a third said the costs of insulation put them off, with 26% directly stating it was ‘too expensive’.
The survey found 55% of householders had taken at least small steps since 2016 to boost their home’s energy efficiency. Yet 26% directly felt improvements were ‘too expensive.’ Nearly a third do not intend to make any upgrades.
PwC’s chief UK economist Jonathan Gilham pointed out that more than half of UK households currently fail to meet the EPC Grade C standard.
Higher building standards mean recent builds cut out much wasted energy, carbon and money. On average, PWC finds yearly energy bills are £374 lower for occupiers of properties built after 2018, at EPC band C standards.
Mostly compiled when a property is either sold or constructed, EPC certificates report both the structure’s actual and potential energy efficiency. Investing to upgrade from the first to the second will save an average of £178 each year, PWC estimates, equal to around one quarter of the ‘average’ home’s energy bill.
“The Clean Growth Strategy can make a significant contribution to achieving net zero targets whilst reducing the cost of living for households”, said Gilham.
“Yet… there is a real risk (that) policies aimed at protecting the environment are seen to disproportionately benefit wealthier homeowners, whilst leaving renters and those without the means to pay out in the cold”.
Whitehall’s record of repeated failure since 2010 in fostering domestic energy efficiency continues to cost Britain’s homeowners heavily. The Coalition government’s loan-based Green Deal died through its high interest rates & complicated applications process.
Under Johnson, the Treasury-funded Green Homes Grant was intended to be simpler. Yet – in the words of a Conservative-led scrutiny committee – , energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng‘s D-BEIS ‘walked away’ from the scheme last year, amidst reports of chaotic outsourced administration and slow repayment to contractors. Its rump lives on, but closed to owner-occupiers.