The UK’s insulation problem

Putting it simply, the UK is home to some of the worst insulated housing in Europe. 

In 2020, UK homes lost an average of 3 degrees of heat after just five hours – with those in Norway losing just 0.9 degrees and Germany only losing 1 degrees centigrade within the same time period. 

As you’ll know, this issue has resulted in devastating consequences for UK energy bills and its climate as a whole, and the problem has been waiting to come to a head over many years.

Ros Atkins is a BBC News Analysis Editor who recently shared his views on the UK’s home insulation problem. 

He explains that the age of housing in the UK contributes heavily to the causes of heat loss – with 38% being built before 1946. In comparison, Spain only has 11% of its homes built before 1946. Older properties are much harder to insulate – those with poor insulation are paying an average of £1000 more per year to heat their homes. 

According to Ros’ research, which lines up with our own, 14% of UK emissions come from home heating, all of which can be reduced significantly by insulation. However, doing this at the scale required – approximately 27 million homes – would be a major undertaking. 

In its 2022 report to parliament, The Climate Change Committee said: “We’re still building new homes that do not meet minimum standards of efficiency and will require significant retrofitting.”

The government however states that it IS taking action – with the number of homes with an energy efficiency rating of C or above up to 46% from 13% in 2010. It has also announced further funding to insulate the least efficient homes – spending £6.6 billion so far. 

The Conservative Party has also pledged their goals to reduce energy consumption from buildings and industry by 15% by 2030 – with £6 billion of funding expected to be spent from 2025. 

Our Managing Director, Will Bown, shared his thoughts:

“I think the support for insulation has been ridiculously low – almost non-existent in fact – since the Conservatives took over. That has changed slightly, with the reduction of VAT for insulation products for example, but schemes in the UK are particularly poor compared to others within the EU.”

“I am hopeful however that the new ECO+ scheme will be a positive addition to the UK insulation market as a whole. The scheme essentially aims to make homes more energy efficient and reduce bills by helping them to insulate their homes.”

“ I do think the government should go much further though, because more energy efficient housing would make a dramatic difference to the finances of families up and down the country.”
You can learn more about the UK Government’s ECO+ scheme here.


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