Dr Keith Baker, Dr Ron Mould, & Laurie McKelvie from The Energy Poverty Research Initiative and Common Weal Energy Working Group look at new plans for home energy efficiency in Scotland. HERE’S some news that we should be welcoming – the Scottish Government is currently consulting on proposals that will see homeowners being legally required to upgrade their properties to minimum energy efficiency standards from 2024. But there’s a very big problem with this policy that risks legal challenges to the Scottish Government which would undermine public acceptance of its other policies to tackle climate change. This may be a bitter pill to swallow, but if we have any hope of reducing our personal carbon footprints down to a sustainable size, we have to substantially improve the energy efficiency of our homes, and those who can afford to do so will need to pay for this themselves. However, these costs will come with the benefits of lower (or even negative) energy bills and warmer and more comfortable homes, and only needing simple changes of behaviour. Not only that, but we know this policy should be effective because it’s been very effective elsewhere – the City of Berkeley, California, has had such a policy since 2008, and many other US states (and Germany) have since followed suite. However, there is a massive problem with the proposals as they stand, as the new standards will be based on Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings, and as building scientists with many decades of collective expertise we cannot stay quiet on an issue that the Scottish Government has known all about and wilfully ignored for many years. We and many other experts have repeatedly and consistently informed the Scottish Government of why EPCs are not a valid measure of household energy consumption and efficiency, but despite this Scottish policy makers persist in their belief that EPCs are a valid mechanism for mandating energy efficiency improvements. Put simply, EPCs make comparisons between houses by normalising multiple variables, but are not designed to consider the complex and ever-changing variables of householders, and so using EPCs as is being proposed means completely ignoring this fundamental limitation.
Commonweal 20th Feb 2020 read more »