UK pledges £1bn to insulate middle-income homes

The energy secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed the new Eco+ scheme will aim to make middle-income homes more energy efficient and advise people on how to reduce their power usage.

The government’s recently announced Eco+ scheme could see hundreds of thousands of homes across the country receive loft and cavity wall insulation, saving consumers around £310 a year, according to the energy secretary. 

The £1bn scheme will run for three years from Spring 2023 and target households that do not currently get support to upgrade homes. Around 80 per cent of the funding will be made available for those households who are in some of the least energy-efficient homes in the country – that is, those with an EPC rating of D or below – and in the lower council tax bands.

A fifth of the funding will also be targeted to those who are the most vulnerable, including those on means-tested benefits or in fuel poverty, the government said.

In addition, approximately £18m will be spent on a public information campaign giving advice about how to save energy. The advice is expected to include reducing boiler flow temperatures from 75°C to 60°C and turning down radiators in empty rooms, which the government said could save a typical household £160 per year. 

The new scheme will join the existing £6.6bn destined for the ‘Help to Heat’ energy schemes. 

“The government put immediate help in place to support households in the wake of global energy price rises caused by Putin’s illegal march on Ukraine,” Shapps said. “Today, we launch the first of many measures to ensure the British public is never put in this position again as we work towards an energy-independent future.

“A new Eco scheme will enable thousands more to insulate their homes, protecting the pounds in their pockets and creating jobs across the country.”

Currently, almost a fifth of UK emissions come from buildings, according to the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) and Britain is said to have the leakiest housing stock in Europe, with as many as 19 million homes requiring better insulation.

Despite the wide calls for more ambitious insulation programmes, Labour has criticised the pledge, calling it a “reheated announcement with no new resources” that comes “far too little, too late”.

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Georgia Whitaker also warned that the funding was not nearly enough, with nearly seven million homes already suffering fuel poverty. 

“This is a drop in the ocean compared to what people actually need to stay warm and well this winter and in the winters to come,” Whitaker said.“At least £6bn is needed by the end of this Parliament for a nationwide insulation programme that will not only help reduce our emissions but will also reduce the terrible levels of fuel poverty in the UK.

“The sooner the government realises this and actually gets going, the sooner we’ll have more affordable bills, more energy security and a more stable climate.”

The Eco announcement is part of the government’s push towards meeting the ambition to make the UK energy independent amid rising electricity and gas costs, as well as a cost-of-living crisis which could lead to some areas of the country facing power cuts and leave as many as 40 per cent of British families facing fuel poverty come winter.

In addition to homes, the wider UK infrastructure is in need of an overhaul, according to advisors, in order to adapt to the extreme temperatures that have been predicted for the years to come. UK homes are predominantly built to stay warm during relatively mild winters, while infrastructure such as hospitals, trains and power lines struggle in hot weather and are often pushed to the point of crisis 

In order to address this energy crisis, the UK government has set an ambition of reducing energy use by 15 per cent by 2030. 

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