houzen looks back at a decade of English housing energy efficiency

  • Energy efficiency has improved, but much more could have been done
  • 69% of homes could be upgraded to band C for under £10k per dwelling
  • The scale of new heat pump incentive is “yet another missed opportunity”

Back in 2012, the English Housing Survey took an in-depth look at the energy efficiency of the country’s housing stock. It found that social housing was leading the field, with an average Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) rating of 65, compared to just 57 for the private rented sector.

The report also observed that while energy efficiency for all tenure groups had improved between 2001 and 2012, increasing from an average SAP of 47 to 59, a full ¾ of homes could have benefitted from energy improvement measures during that time:

“The energy improvement measures that could benefit most dwellings were the installation of a condensing boiler (9.7 million), installing cavity wall insulation (5.6 million) and installing or upgrading loft insulation (5.6 million).”

English Housing Survey: Energy Efficiency of English Housing, 2012

Fast-forward nearly a decade and what’s now front of mind in terms of improving energy efficiency? Boilers. Still.

The most recent English Housing Survey to provide a snapshot of energy efficiency is the 2019-20 report. It found that energy efficiency had improved over the preceding decade, with the proportion of dwellings in the highest EER bands (A to C), rising from 12% to 40% between 2009 and 2019. Social rented homes continued to be the best performers, with 61% in bands A to C in 2019, compared to just 38% of homes in the private rented sector.

“It’s good to see that some improvements have been made in terms of energy efficiency in English homes over the past decade, but it feels like so much more could have been done. The 2019-20 English Housing Survey found that it would have cost less than £10,000 per home to bring 69% of dwellings up to a band C rating and around £15,000 to get a further 11% to band C. There simply hasn’t been enough emphasis on the importance of doing so.”Saurabh Saxena, Founder, houzen

The average cost to move a property from EER bands D to G up to a band C rating was estimated to be £8,110. The cost varied across tenure, from the cheapest being housing association dwellings (with an average of £5,910) to the most expensive being owner occupied homes (£8,579). Just 2% of properties were found to be unable to reach band C at all.

With an average annual energy cost saving of £298 because of upgrading a home to band C, it would take the average property over 27 years to start benefitting financially from doing so. Hence the need for government incentives to speed up the upgrading of English homes’ energy performance.

Heat pumps are an interesting example of this. In 2019, just 103,000 homes in England had a heat pump – well below 1% of total housing stock. The government has now announced a £5,000-per-household grant to encourage the installation of heat pumps. However, that will cover the installation of just 30,000 heat pumps per year. How the government target of installing 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028 is to be met remains unclear.

“This feels like yet another missed opportunity, even with all the knowledge we have now about the importance of improving the energy efficiency of the country’s homes. Funding shortfalls like this show, in many respects, how little has actually changed over the past few years in terms of measures to enhance energy efficiency.”Saurabh Saxena, Founder, houzen

Some of those likely to be near the front of the queue for the new heat pump grants are England’s landlords, as all new tenancies will require an EPC rating of band C or higher by 2025. Proptech investment platform houzen is supporting landlords and owner-occupiers alike to reach band C or higher with its in-depth sustainability reports. The tech-driven reports provide owners with the means to see quickly and easily how their properties measure up in terms of their environmental impact, as well as how they can enhance their sustainability. They blend expert knowledge with AI and Computer Vision to consider how homes perform in respect of 27 measures that impact the climate.

“We have not an opportunity but a responsibility to act faster when it comes to improving the energy efficiency of our homes. We have the knowledge and the tools to make huge leaps now, so that’s exactly what we need to do, today.”

Saurabh Saxena, Founder, houzen

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BDC 318 : Jul 2024