Time to transform our homes
Support the Domestic Properties Bill
We now recognise the cost of ‘gas-guzzling’ cars to our pockets, our health and our environment but still we don’t seem to recognise the cost of ‘gas-guzzling’ homes. When we buy a new or used car we check its performance statistics and ensure we can afford the cost of running the car; but few of us do the same when we buy a house. We focus on the upfront capital cost of the house but not what it will cost to live in. The building of new ‘affordable’ homes is underway but once again ‘affordable’ refers to the upfront cost and the cost of heating it is ignored. Yet the struggle to heat homes can have dire consequences. Research by Nation Energy Action and E3G shows that the UK has the second worst long-term rate of excess winter mortality of 30 European countries . Only Ireland is worse.
A total of 168,000 excess winter deaths have been recorded in the UK over the latest five-year period. Almost 17,000 of those people are estimated to have died as a direct result of fuel poverty and a further 36,000 deaths are attributable to conditions relating to living in a cold home.
These figures clearly demonstrate the importance of a home being truly ‘affordable’ to live in. The Sustainable Energy Association has long advocated improvements to our buildings to make them healthier and more affordable places to live and work. We have raised concerns about the risks of our cold and draughty existing homes, and of building poor quality new homes.
Like cars, buildings do have an indicator of how energy efficient they are: The Housing Act 2004 introduced Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) which provide information about a property’s energy efficiency and how to reduce energy costs. They are a legal requirement when properties are put on the market for sale or rent and they must be given free of charge to the person who becomes the buyer or tenant.
In our Wrap then Heat Report published early in 2017 we called on the Government to set a target to bring all homes up to Energy Performance Band C. We were greatly encouraged by the inclusion in the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy of a commitment to upgrade all fuel poor homes to EPC Band C by 2030.
The ‘aspiration for as many homes as possible to be EPC Band C by 2035’ was also welcome. However, an aspiration tends to be a hope and needs tangible policy to turn it into reality. A cross party group of MPs is therefore calling for just that.
Conservative MP David Amess introduced the Domestic Properties (Minimum Energy Performance) Bill on 6th February. The Bill has its second reading on 16th March.This Bill aims to fill the gap between the government’s aspiration for EPC band C homes and the need for detailed policy to deliver it. I urge the Government and parliamentarians to support this bill and others to encourage their MPs to do so.
As well as preventing deaths and saving the NHS money, improving the energy efficiency of our homes can reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, help the UK meet its carbon-reduction targets and deliver clean growth of our economy. Support the Bill and make this happen!
The Bill can be found here: https://www.sustainableenergyassociation.com/resources/domestic_properties_bill/
For more information or to support the Bill, please contact Ron Bailey (Head of Parliamentary Affairs) firstname.lastname@example.org
 Results are adjusted to take account of length of the heating season beyond just the winter months.