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Opportunities for home energy makeover

An ambitious home energy efficiency plan could add nearly £14 billion to UK GDP by 2030, according to a new report from campaign group Energy Bill Revolution. An apt year, considering a deal on EU climate targets up to then has just been agreed.

The group says such a GDP boost would mean £3.20 was generated for every pound invested, as well as offering £1.27 in tax revenue back from the accelerated green economy within the decade - certainly an attractive proposition if political consensus can be agreed. Social housing, often where some of the least thermally efficient properties can be found, has to be a key area of attention in the coming years. One of the issues with large-scale retrofitting of these properties is the need to minimise disruption for people living there, but a new ‘snap on’ insulation approach may be a godsend here.

The Dutch Energy Leap technique provides a home energy makeover in ten days, wrapping a building snugly in insulation, and overlaying an insulated roof with solar panels. Not only that; heat pumps, ventilation units and hot water storage tanks are stored in sheds. It may seem too good to be true, but the team has already won a Dutch Government contract to retrofit 111,000 homes on 1960s and 70s estates in the Netherlands, and is bidding for EU funds to bring the concept to the UK and France. The financial model behind how such funding might be channelled is slightly more complex than the work itself, aimed as it is at incentivising the participation of government, housing associations, social and cooperative banking and householders themselves.

Indeed, a further 'carrot' to home occupants in the Dutch case was to offer the installation of brand new kitchens at the same time - which in turn had the benefit of reducing kitchen maintenance costs for housing associations. And company Npower brought an insulation angle to Halloween this year, suggesting that signs of ghost hauntings may in fact just be down to poor lagging. Visiting a series of ‘most haunted’ sites in Britain, the company debunked witches as the draughts of old doors and windows, ghouls as a lack of loft and wall insulation. A very practical bah humbug for paranormal enthusiasts.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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