Home energy efficiency must be a “national infrastructure priority”, major coalition urges
Energy efficiency in UK homes must become a “national infrastructure priority” – with Government committing to a target of retrofitting 1 million homes a year by 2020 – a major new coalition of 20 organisations from the construction, housing and environment sectors is urging today.
In an open letter to Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, the heads of environmental groups, charities, membership organisations and trade associations warn that the UK’s homes are among the “coldest and draughtiest in Europe” resulting in high energy bills and “one of the worst records on fuel poverty and preventable winter deaths”.
They argue that Government should direct £3-4 billion a year in capital investment to fund a significant programme of energy efficiency to transform the UK’s aging housing stock. This investment would address market failures and leverage substantial additional private investment. Treasury estimates annual capital investment in infrastructure at £45billion per year (see notes to editors).
The leaders write: “Domestic energy efficiency is one of the most cost effective ways to achieve the Government’s three strategic priorities for energy infrastructure: controlling energy bills, tackling climate change and unlocking investment to support economic growth.”
“No other investment can achieve so much for individual householders and for UK Plc.”
The letter comes as the group of organisations publishes a short report, titled A housing stock fit for the future, setting out the strong economic benefits for improving home energy efficiency. These include:
- Generating significant economic growth and doubling the number of jobs in the energy efficiency sector to 260,000.
- Improving energy security and reducing the UK’s reliance on imported gas.
- Reducing carbon emissions to meet carbon targets and combat climate change.
- Permanently reducing energy bills by £300 a year and lifting nine out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty.
- Improving health and wellbeing, reducing excess winter deaths and lowering NHS and social care costs.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “There’s a gaping hole at the heart of the Government’s plan for infrastructure, and that gaping hole is the energy efficiency of our aging housing stock. Government has so far failed to recognise the huge opportunities it presents.
“But it’s not too late. Making home energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority – and offering it significant support alongside transport, energy generation or communications projects - would not only cut households’ rocketing energy bills and help tackle climate change, but would create thousands of new jobs and strengthen the UK’s energy security. Government spends £45billion a year on capital infrastructure investment - our bricks and mortar deserve to be included.”