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‘Better Homes, Better Wales, Better World’ report - our response

‘Better Homes, Better Wales, Better World’ report - our responseWednesday, 17 July, 2019

Houses in Colwyn Bay, North Wales

A new report ‘Better Homes, Better Wales, Better World’ commissioned by Welsh ministers calls for major changes to most homes in the country, over the next thirty years.

Energy Saving Trust welcomes the recommendations in the report. Max Lacey-Barnacle, Energy Saving Trust’s Wales Policy Officer says:

‘A major programme to improve the insulation and heating systems in Welsh homes should be a top priority for Wales, as this report recommends. 15% of Wales’ carbon emissions come from homes, so this 30-year home decarbonisation programme is central to Wales’ contribution to fighting climate change. And the programme will deliver warmer homes with lower bills, protecting people from fuel poverty.’

The Welsh government currently has programmes to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency that support many householders to install energy efficient boilers or insulate walls and roofs, particularly those on low incomes.  But this report argues for a step change in action on home energy in Wales.  Welsh Ministers commissioned the report last year and it was produced by an independent Advisory Group on the Decarbonisation of Homes in Wales, chaired by Christopher Jofeh of Arup and involving the Energy Saving Trust.

Some of the key recommendations in the report include:

  • By 2050 all Welsh homes, where possible, ‘must be retrofitted to achieve an energy performance Band A rating’.“A” is the highest standard of energy efficiency on the official Energy Performance Certificate. Currently, less than 1% of Welsh homes meet this target. "A" rated homes are very highly insulated, and most will have renewable energy features, such as solar electricity panels and use low-carbon heating technologies. The report says there should be an initial focus on bringing homes to the A standard that are rented by social landlords or occupied by families in fuel poverty. It also recommends the government should establish a £100million fund to invest in new technologies and systems to help meet the standard. Max Lacey Barnacle points out: ‘This would be the most ambitious government energy saving target across all UK nations. Currently, only Scotland has a target to bring some of its homes to a "B" standard, by 2032.
  • Ensuring that all new homes built after 2025 meet a high energy efficiency standard. The report recommends that gas or oil boilers, which contribute to climate change, shouldn't be allowed in new homes after this date. Instead, homes will need to use clean heating technologies and be highly energy and water efficient. New homes built with government money should meet this standard earlier, by 2021.
  • Government support to introduce a home logbook system to help every homeowner track the improvements made to their property and understand how best they can improve its energy performance.

Not all the powers to achieve the Report’s recommendations are in the hands of Welsh policy makers. The report calls on UK Government (which has overall responsibility for energy supply) to continue to promote a switch away from electricity generated by coal, oil and gas.  Max Lacey-Barnacle explains:  ‘We’re still going to need electricity in our homes in 2050, even if we’re using very little energy for heating because our homes are so well insulated. So that electricity to power our computers, fridges and other appliances has to come from clean sources, like wind turbines.’

Referencing a forthcoming new Welsh strategy for tackling Fuel Poverty, Energy Saving Trust's Max Lacey-Barnacle continued: ‘We're hopeful that many of the recommendations in the report will be developed in the Welsh Government's forthcoming Fuel Poverty Strategy. In particular, targeting hard to reach low-income areas and communities in Wales, coupled with a focus on homes that are more expensive and difficult to insulate. There is a powerful link between having a warm, high quality home and the quality of people’s lives, particularly for the most vulnerable.’

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