UK Green Building Council

Retrofit for homes

Refurbishing the existing housing stock will be key to reducing the UK's carbon emissions so that we can acheive our ambitious carbon reduction targets.

Our existing housing stock

The UK’s housing stock is amongst the least energy efficient in Europe, and is responsible for nearly a quarter of our annual carbon emissions. In recent years, this has driven an ever-increasing focus from both Government and the private sector on finding ways to help households save money on their bills, reduce their emissions, and make their homes warmer and more pleasant places to live.

Policy on domestic retrofit activities

The current Government’s flagship policy to tackle home energy efficiency is the Green Deal. Due to launch in the autumn of 2012, the scheme will enable homeowners to have various measures installed at no up-front cost, financed by the private sector and repaid through a charge attached to their energy meter. The Green Deal will be complemented by the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), which will provide additional support for improvements in “hard to treat” homes, and to deliver “affordable warmth” to those in fuel poverty.

In the lead-up to the launch of the Green Deal and ECO, the current energy company obligations, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) will continue to drive the retrofit of energy-saving measures into UK’s homes. CERT, due to end in December 2012, places an obligation on energy suppliers to deliver overall lifetime carbon dioxide savings of 293 MtCO2 through a variety of measures, but with a focus on professionally installed insulation. Similar, though more targeted towards low income areas, CESP places an emphasis whole-house retrofits, delivered via partnerships between energy companies, Local Authorities and community groups. Other fuel poverty-focused schemes include Warm Front and the Warm Home Discount.

Beyond energy efficiency, the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) are designed to encourage the retrofit of small scale renewables in homes. The former, launched in 2010 has been enormously successful, with significant levels of take-up from households across the UK. Currently available only to non-domestic properties, the RHI will be available to households from late 2012.

How we've been involved

Finding ways to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s homes, and to reduce emissions from this sector has long been a focus of the UK-GBC.

In 2008, a Task Group was convened to help inform the Government’s Low Carbon Homes Strategy, delivering the Low Carbon Existing Homes report. This was followed in 2009 with a Task Group that focussed on how retrofit could be financed. This led to the production of our Pay as You Save report, which played a significant role in informing the early development of the Green Deal.

In 2011 we provided responses to consultations on the Green Deal and ECO, FiTs and RHI, as well as convening a number of events for our members to keep them up-to-date with developments in this area.

Information for homeowners

If you are a homeowner looking for information about how you can improve the energy efficiency of your home, take a look at our Great British Refurb website, which we run with Kevin McCloud and WWF, or visit the Energy Saving Trust for further advice.

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