Calls to demystify net zero homes

Solar Installation on a house build property

An open letter to government has called for climate change plans to be less complicated and confusing if England is to achieve net zero. The letter says that schemes designed to improve emissions from homes are overly-complicated and far from simple to understand.

The coalition group behind the plea includes the Federation of Master Builders, Citizens Advice, Which? and the invitation-only Aldersgate Group, whose members include some of the best known businesses in the UK as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), public sector bodies, trade associations and influential individuals including cross-party parliamentarians.

The government sees a reduction in energy use by residential properties as key to achieving its goal of net zero by 2050. Home heating is responsible for around 20% of all emissions produced in the UK. The National Housing Federation says that homes in England produce more carbon emissions than all the country’s cars, largely due to the proliferation of gas central heating and poor insulation.

Net zero is a balance between the level of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere against absorbing the same amount by such actions as tree planting.

The current system of upgrading insulation and low-carbon heating puts home owners through a ‘time-consuming, confusing and stressful’ process. This was demonstrated by the Green Homes Grant, designed to help home owners improve their home insulation. The scheme was scrapped in March 2021 when just 10% of households targeted had been able to take advantage of the scheme.

The letter to government contains three key concerns to improve plans to decarbonise homes. They call for government to provide:

  1. accessible and unbiased information for upgrading insulation and installing low carbon heating;
  2. consumer protections from scammers and rogue traders;
  3. a comprehensive and long-term policy framework of costs to provide certainty over financial support, including grants, low-cost loans and finance.

The government has responded to the letter by saying: “We are investing £1.3 billion this year alone to support people to install energy efficiency measures in their homes, with upgrades to 50,000 low-income households already underway. Our Simple Energy Advice service offers clear information on what financial support is available for people to make home improvements, so they can save money on their energy bills.”