Owners of new-build homes are paying £200 more a year on bills because the government scrapped zero-carbon energy standards, according to a report
The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) claims that new homeowners would have been making significant savings on their energy use if the super-green standard for all new homes had been brought in during 2016, as originally planned.
First announced 12 years ago, the abandoned zero-carbon homes policy demanded that all new-build homes should not result in the net release of any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during day-to-day running.
The standard, which was due for full implementation in 2016, included requirements for new housing developments to generate energy through renewable sources such as solar panels or ground-source heat pumps.
But the proposed regulation was dropped by the Treasury in July 2015 just a few months before it was set to go live – as was the planned zero-carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme – in a bid to boost housebuilding.
The ECIU’s head of analysis Jonathan Marshall said: ‘As well as future-proofing new homes, the policy would have saved families money, reduced Britain’s vulnerability to energy supply shocks, and cut carbon emissions.’
The report [see attached] reads: ‘Building a home to zero carbon standards would in theory increase the purchase price. However, the sum involved is small – 1 to 2 per cent of the overall cost – and would be recouped through energy bill savings within years.’
According to the ECIU, progress in reducing carbon emissions from the residential sector in the UK has stalled in recent years.
Since the start of 2016, some 380,000 homes have been built, but the heating efficiency of most has fallen below what would have been required to meet the zero-carbon homes standards.
The report says those who moved into their homes at the start of 2016 will have shelled out on average an extra £208 to £233 a year to heat their houses compared to ones built to the super green standards.
Marshall, added: ‘Successive governments have struggled to devise effective domestic energy-efficiency policies, meaning carbon emissions from homes are rising, but zero-carbon homes could have made a real difference …
‘Tackling new-build homes is one of the easiest ways of improving the UK’s leaky housing stock, and reintroducing this policy could also deliver a boost to firms involved in insulation and low-carbon heating.’
CBI energy and infrastructure director Tom Thackray described the report as ‘a sobering account of missed opportunities’.
He said: ‘The government’s decision to scrap its Zero Carbon Home policy sent the wrong message to business and consumers about its commitment to reduce carbon emissions from buildings.
‘With a spending review planned for later this year, it is crucial the government fills this gap, while also outlining how a long-term framework for decarbonising heating in buildings can be established.’
But speaking to ITV, housing minister Kit Malthouse: ‘I don’t agree with the assertion that energy-efficiency regulations have been watered down – in fact new homes built in England have increased in efficiency by over 30 per cent since 2010.
‘As well as cutting carbon emissions to tackle the threat of climate change, our efforts have actually put an average of £200 a year back into the pockets of families.
‘There is more we can do to secure more efficient homes and, following our ongoing review of Building Regulations, we will likely consult on further energy saving proposals later this year.’