UK Homes are some of the worst insulated in Europe and not just the old ones. In 2015 the government dropped plans for all new homes to be ‘Zero Carbon’ in 2016. Since then 1.2 million UK homes have been built to much lower energy efficiency standards, costing their occupants an estimated extra £234m last year and, of course, much more now.
Locally there’s some good news: South Cambs and Cambridge City councils have recently reintroduced their ‘Action on Energy’ scheme to help owner-occupiers in poorly insulated homes (EPC E, F or G) with a low household income or where someone on benefits lives. They can access grants of up to £25,000 to cover all the cost of home energy improvements.
For tenants in this situation, their landlords are entitled to similar, smaller grants to cover 2/3 of the cost. Landlords of homes with the worst energy performance (EPC F or G) are already legally obliged to spend up to £3,500 improving them (unless exempted). This is an opportunity to get
substantial grant help to improve many of these homes.
It hurts that these councils are having to return £22m to the government from last year’s short-lived Green Homes Grants scheme. Well-designed government home energy grants are urgently needed, specially to help those worst affected by the expected doubling of energy costs this coming winter.
Open Eco Homes will show ways to improve home comfort and cut energy bills in low-cost ways like draught-proofing and controlling your heating better. We’ll also showcase bigger projects to thoroughly insulate homes and heat them efficiently with heat pumps and smart use of electricity, ready for the zero-carbon future. We find there’s a surge of interest in this for new homes and for retrofits of older ones. Even though it’s spring, now’s the time to prepare your home for next winter and the long run.
First published in The Cambridge Independent, 20th April 2022