Ed Matthew: There is also an elephant in the room. It’s not a very attractive elephant from a political perspective, but it is impossible to ignore: it is the poor energy efficiency of the UK housing stock. The UK has the oldest building stock in Europe, and according to Eurostat data, one of the least energy efficient. There are 19 million homes in the UK with poor levels of energy efficiency – with a grade worse than a C on their energy performance certificate. The properties rated F and G, the lowest on the scale, are in fact so energy inefficient that they can kill due to the excess cold hazard they pose. This has devastating consequences. The poor efficiency of our housing stock is the principal cause of high energy bills and the main cause of fuel poverty, with 4.5 million households struggling to pay their energy bills and facing the dire choice of having to heat or eat. It also means we are pumping out far more carbon emissions than we need to, and it also contributes to the UK’s appalling track record on excess winter deaths, with an average of 25,000 people dying every year due to the cold. But a ground-breaking report by the UK’s leading academic experts on energy efficiency last month found that the UK had, in the past, put in place an energy efficiency programme which had achieved enormous cuts in energy bills. They reported that in 2015 the average UK household energy bill was a staggering £490 lower than it would have been without improvements in insulation, low carbon lighting and energy efficient appliances made since 2004. But these energy experts also found that, based on the government’s own data, it was cost-effective to use energy efficiency measures to reduce energy bills by another 25%, a reduction of on average £270 per year at today’s energy prices. They also calculated that there was long term potential to cut UK household energy bills in half.
Guardian 6th Oct 2017 read more »