A massive acceleration of home insulation and low-carbon heat launched by government could be saving bill payers up to £500 a year as soon as April, new research from a think tank claims.
Progressively oriented ideas factory the IPPR says warm words from Rishi Sunak about the energy crisis are still leaving the nation’s unlagged dwellings lagging behind our continenta; neighbours.
A new GreenGO programme, putting leak plugging on a war footing, coupled with aggressive, realistic targets for heat pumps and green energy innovations, are needed now, speeding past slower government delivery, researchers Joshua Emden and Luke Murphy argue.
Welcoming chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s promise of an insulation taskforce and retrofitting funds announced in his Autumn Statement, the pair still decry Whitehall’s lack of ambition. It’s on a par they say with the past decade’s failed measures such as Sunak’s hastily snatched Green Homes Grant three years ago.
Hunt now offers no public cash beyond 2025, say the IPPR duo, leaving householders and taxpayers paying more they should for heat and power.
Only three months from now, homes in fuel poverty threatens to pass the current 6.7 million total as Hunt increases to £3,000 the per energy price guarantee on an average home bill.
“The government has only offered an additional £250 to the lowest income households (- £900 in total, up from £650 – ) to support all cost-of-living increases, not just for energy”, Emden and Murphy write.
“It has not yet recommitted to the £400 energy bill rebate for 2023, which households are receiving this winter.
British homes’ dependence on gas boilers – 85% have them, against 50% or less in France or Germany – leave the nation’s worst insulated dwellings at prey to wasted, expensive heat.
A scheme to mobilise mass retrofits, installing heat pumps, boosted with ambition missed by Hunt could, the pair claim, be saving the average home bill payer up to £500 a year, and as early as April. The IPPR pair cite modelling by Carbon Brief.
The advocacy comes the day that British Gas offers to fit air sourced heat pumps for as little as £3,000, – or £500 in Scotand -, with interest-free loans, and vowing to match any rival’s quote. Britain’s third-ranking energy supplier Octopus last year bought its own heat pump builder.
Mass retrofitting in England alone could sustain 400,000 direct jobs and 500,000 indirect ones as this decade ends, say the IPPR duo. Those figures could triple by 2050, the Net Zero deadline.
Expanded skills in retrofitting trades would be concentrated in deprivation pockets targeted already by the Conservatives’ levelling up agenda, such as struggling industrial centres such as south Yorkshire and coastal communities from East Anglia to Merseyside and Cornwall.
GreenGO is the pair’s name for the drive, a one-stop national delivery drive run by the government’s national insulation taskforce. Read their report here.
Considering that many UK homes are poorly insulated as well as having inefficient polluting gas boilers (compared with heat pumps), there will be a massive amount of money needed to upgrade them to 21st century standards. This should come from everyone: Government, energy supply companies and building owners. And there are the public buildings that need their upgrade too. While enough funding be difficult to find by any Government, the urgency to find it from all sources requires urgent escalation as we only have 23 years left to stop the emission of fossil carbon and NOx emissions are arguably even more important because they are harmful and can kill.