How many homes in your area could pay less for their energy? – In Your Area

Image credit: Yui Mok

Written by Clara Murray, Data Unit

Energy inefficient homes could be making the impact of the gas price hike worse for millions of families in England and Wales – with almost two-thirds of households potentially paying too-high bills.

Since 2008, newly built, bought or let homes must have an Energy Performance Certificate.

This rates homes based on whether they have energy-saving features such as insulation, LED lighting, or double-glazed windows.

Like household appliances, the ratings run from A to G, with a grade between A and C considered efficient.

However, just 39.4% of homes rated in England and Wales over the past 13 years were awarded a grade C or higher.

Of those, only 0.2%, or 38,021 homes, were awarded the top A grade.

Out of more than 21 million properties which have an EPC grade, nearly 13 million (60.6%) were rated D or below – meaning they were costing bill payers more than they should.

New analysis has shown a D-rated home – the average rating – will pay £107 more per year at the current high gas prices compared to a home rated C.

For homes rated F, this soars to an extra £246 per year, according to figures from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

Retrofitting homes to make them more efficient can slash electric and gas bills by hundreds of pounds.

But many energy-saving measures – like adding loft insulation or replacing gas boilers with heat pumps – do not come cheap.

Nationwide Building Society has calculated it costs an average of £8,100 to upgrade a home from grade D or E to C.

Improving a house rated F or G to the same standard takes £25,800.

At those prices, improving all the homes identified as inefficient in England and Wales could cost as much as £126 billion.

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And that’s just the homes that have been rated.

These numbers don’t include the thousands of homes that haven’t been sold or rented in the past 13 years so haven’t been given an EPC rating.

However, government spending aimed at improving energy efficiency has not matched this level of investment.

People on low incomes can apply to have “affordable warmth” measures installed through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.

More than 2.9m ECO measures have been installed in homes in England and Wales since the scheme started in 2013 – or 12.2% of all households.

This has cost a total of £5.4 billion over the period.

The most common measures are cavity wall insulation (982,000 homes), new boilers (756,000 homes) and loft insulation (657,000 homes).

Support under the scheme has tailed off since it launched, with a 95% drop in installations this year compared to 2012.

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Meanwhile, the £1.5 billion Green Homes Grant – which promised homeowners on all income levels grants towards energy-saving improvements – was scrapped just seven months after it launched last year.

By the time it was cancelled in March this year, only 78,000 homes had benefited from the scheme.

Peter Smith, Director of Policy and Advocacy at National Energy Action, said: “We have some of the least efficient housing in Europe.

“This leaves the UK exposed to the current soaring gas price and we are wasting billions of pounds each year as heat escapes through leaky roofs, floors and ceilings.

“This inefficiency has a huge influence on fuel poverty, and it is essential that the current crisis makes us redouble efforts to improve our housing to cut both bills and emissions.”

“Alongside other key programmes, the GB-wide Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is helping make some positive difference for households that are struggling to pay their bills.

“Since ECO began in January 2013 it has contributed to the installation of more than 1.5m measures, saving low-income households more than £16bn over the lifetime of the measures on their energy bills.”

However, Smith urged the government to do more to honour its commitments on home energy efficiency, particularly through the next phase of the ECO scheme and two new schemes, the Home Upgrade Grant and Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

There is a wide split between urban and rural areas when it comes to efficiency. Tower Hamlets, the City of London and Hackney have the most efficient housing stock, with well over half the properties in these areas graded C or above.

Meanwhile, the Isles of Scilly, Pendle and Gwynedd come in bottom, with less than a fifth achieving the highest grades.

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