1. There is no pathway to net zero without retrofitting millions of homes – it is a crucial stepping stone to meeting our climate targets
Homes are one of the largest sources of carbon emission in the country, making up around 20% of total UK emissions. If we are to meet our climate targets, we need to retrofit at least 19 millions homes by 2030. Fortunately, this essential step on the path to net zero is also a huge opportunity to improve people’s lives, finances and wellbeing: everyone deserves to live in a warm, safe, and damp-free home, and retrofitting can bring that about.
2. Retrofitting makes homes more energy efficient
From things like double glazing and wall insulation to more advanced green technologies like heat pumps and solar panels, retrofitting encompasses the many different ways we can make homes more energy efficient. Different homes will need different solutions, and often the more measures and improvements that are made, the better the efficiency of a home. We call it a ‘deep’ retrofit when every possible measure has been taken and the home is carbon neutral. We measure how energy efficient a home is in lots of ways but the most common is called an Energy Efficiency Certificate or EPC rating. EPC A is the best, and EPC F being the worst.
3. Retrofitting can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs
Across the UK nearly 19 million homes are in need of upgrading as they are below the EPC rating of C. And so the scale of the retrofitting project that needs to take place is a huge opportunity to create thousands of skilled jobs across the country, as well as opportunities for local businesses and suppliers. This will require new training academies, apprenticeships, and a whole new retrofit economy that can help transform communities. A 2014 study from Cambridge Econometrics estimated that raising every home in the UK to EPC level C would sustain at least 108,000 new jobs annually between 2020 – 2030. Our recommended public and private investment programme would generate at least 190,000 direct jobs across the economy between now and 2030, and more jobs indirectly.
4. Retrofitting will improve social housing first
If we wanted to start retrofitting millions of homes tomorrow we wouldn’t have the people and supply chains we need to do it. And without a long-term, large scale retrofit strategy, costs are higher. To date, national retrofit schemes have had a stop-start nature, which often leads to the small firms involved collapsing. Our new campaign will first focus on local authorities and social housing providers to be the engines of the Great Homes Upgrade, as the government can fund them directly, and they are controlled by a single social landlord. By starting with social housing we can help set up localised plans, and create the environment for business to mobilise later down the line. It’s also more socially just.
5. Retrofitting homes will save people money
Many people worry that retrofitting their home and moving to more energy efficient technologies will cost more. Our proposals will save people money in the long-run. And by starting with social housing first, it will become cheaper for those homeowners who are able to pay to retrofit their homes. But the government needs to help make this happen – for example, by not subsidising gas boilers over cleaner electric heat pumps.
The benefits for public health, energy use, job creation and the wider economy make retrofitting a government investment with high returns.