The role of home energy efficiency in our climate emergency

If we are to meet the 2050 targets of the Climate Change Act, then all housing in the UK must have zero carbon emissions from space and water heating, and space cooling.

Rick Hartwig, Built Environment Lead at IET (Institute for Engineering and Technology​)

Home energy consumption accounts for around 30% of total energy used in the UK, and around 20% of our total carbon emissions. According to Ofgem, the average UK home with a medium energy consumption uses 12,000 kWh of gas per year and 3,100 kWh of electricity per year. That represents total carbon emissions of 3,067kg per year.

Therefore, if we are to meet targets and reduce the threat of climate change, addressing energy use in the home is a good place to start.

That’s where Cosy Homes Oxfordshire comes in. Working alongside our partners at the National Energy Foundation and RetrofitWorks, we’ve created a home retrofit service to help homeowners in Oxfordshire improve energy efficiency in the home, cutting carbon emissions whilst also reducing energy bills. Read on to find out more...

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There are some simple ways to ensure that your home is as energy efficient as possible, such as:

Better heating regulation

Heating and hot water account for the majority of energy use in the home, making up around 62% of average energy usage. This means that a huge amount of energy, carbon emissions, and money from your energy bills can be saved by regulating heating in the home better.

Measures such as installing a thermostat, programmer, and thermostatic radiator valves could save up to 330kg* of carbon emissions every year.

Improved insulation

As well as using energy more efficiently, it’s also important to minimise the amount of energy lost from the house. This is most commonly done through insulation. If your loft is not insulated, for instance, you could cut your carbon emissions by 500kg per year by installing loft insulation to a thickness of 270mm.

*All statistics are 2019 data from Energy Saving Trust.

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The measures mentioned above are all measures which come under the umbrella term of ‘retrofit’ i.e. the implementation of methods or technology to improve home energy efficiency, which were not available at the time the house was designed or built.

We already have the knowledge, technology, and materials needed to undertake retrofits, but so far in the UK we’ve failed to put them into place on a large-scale. In 2018 a report by Nottingham Trent University and IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) called ‘Scaling Up Retrofit 2050’ concluded that we cannot rely on decarbonising the energy system alone. Their findings suggest that we need to retrofit 26 million homes in the UK by 2050 in order to actively reduce energy use and keep within the greenhouse gas emission reductions promised by the 2008 Climate Change Act (80% less than 1990 baseline).

The ‘Scaling Up Retrofit 2050’ research also found that the most effective retrofit projects include the following:

  • A whole house approach, aiming to take a property to near net-zero energy demand in one step only
  • Having a single, trusted point of contact for homeowners or tenants, who stays with them throughout the retrofit process

So we’ve built this into the Cosy Homes Oxfordshire model. A Retrofit Coordinator from RetrofitWorks will act as your single point of contact for the process. They conduct a home assessment, delivering a Whole House Plan which outlines all the improvements that could be made throughout the home. The Retrofit Coordinator will help you find the right contractor from a group of vetted suppliers and can help source quotes. It's then up to you which improvements you choose to take forward and the Retrofit Coordinator will oversee the work carried out.

Want to reduce the carbon emissions from your home? Register your home to start the process

The Whole House Plan was not too long and was down to earth about what could be done. It gave several ideas on how improvements could save money over time as well as giving possible costings on each idea. I can honestly say I believe it was the best £75 I have spent to date.

Recent Cosy Homes Oxfordshire service user​