RetrofitWorks’ Response to the Heat and Buildings Strategy
After multiple delays, the Heat and Buildings Strategy has finally been released, one of Government’s decarbonisation strategies in order to achieve Net Zero by 2050. As eco-retrofit experts, we been appearing on mainstream media this week to give our view on the 3-year strategy: how realistic is it? Who will pay? Does it go far enough to save our planet? Our response when it comes to homes, is it’s a start, but it simply will not drive the scale of energy efficiency needed in both private and rented sectors.
Take the £450million budget for boilers in homes which includes the £5000 grants for households as part of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to promote clean heat from low carbon technology like heat pumps. The headline figures may sound great but the sum ringfenced is just far too low to make a difference, representing just 30,000 boilers a year. And who is going to install these heat pumps? There are currently just 1,000 heat pump installers in the UK, in comparison with 96,000 gas engineers.
Perhaps most disappointing, is that the policymakers are still not grasping the fact that it’s holistic changes that are vital for any sustainable and impactful change to happen. Retrofitting or building new homes with energy efficient technologies and materials in isolation does not work. What’s the point of putting heat pumps into poorly insulated homes? It’s a vicious circle of creating energy, supplying it and then simply squandering it. Realistically, most homeowners will do a sizeable renovation to their properties at some point in ownership, so why can’t we focus on offering this whole house approach as the “norm” and invest in having a skilled supply chain that can deliver.
Sure we’ll wait to see what transpires at COP26 and we have yet to hear more detail about the social housing and public sector decarbonisation fund, the home upgrade grant scheme and the heat networks transformation programme, but for now Government’s actions are not speaking louder than their words. The Net Zero Review accepted that the costs of inaction on climate change outweigh the costs of action. The Heat and Buildings Strategy weighs heavily on the side of inaction.