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Energy-saving refurb planned for all UK homes

Green campaigners have welcomed plans to give every UK home a green refit by 2030 – but the source of funding remains undecided

The government’s draft Heat and Energy Saving Strategy, released for consultation yesterday (12 February 2009), sets out a framework to bring existing houses to a level ‘approaching zero carbon’ by 2050.

It admits further financial support may be needed ‘to encourage people to act now’, but offers a series of suggestions in place of firm commitments. These include changes to the building regulations requiring energy saving measures to be fitted, and loans and grants funded by further levies on energy suppliers.

The draft also suggests an ‘energy savings company’ model, where companies install renewable energy systems and energy saving equipment, then charge consumers for the use of their service over a defined contract period.

If the home is sold, it seems financial incentives may be designed so they can be transferred to the new owners.

Duncan Baker-Brown of BBM Sustainable Design, a firm that specialises in retrofitting existing homes, said upgrades were essential given the rate at which the country’s housing stock is being replaced, and that more immediate financial incentives were necessary. He called for a VAT cut on renovation work that improves the energy efficiency of existing buildings.

The strategy proposes fitting cavity wall and loft insulation in all suitable properties by 2015. Solid wall insulation and further energy saving measures will be added to another seven million properties by 2020, cutting household energy emissions by a third.

By 2030, all properties will have received a ‘whole house’ package including, where possible, the addition of renewable heat and power equipment such as biomass boilers and geothermal heating.

The RIBA said architects had a vital role in advising clients on energy efficiency. It would like to see the retrofits done on a ‘large scale by upgrading houses street by street and area by area’.

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