The Energy Saving Trust welcomes the Chancellor’s commitments in the Spring Statement to promote energy efficiency and low carbon heating in our homes in the latter half of the 2020s.
But to be ready for low carbon heating – and to make sure that it doesn’t cost householders - we need to be taking action today. In particular we need an ambitious tightening of building regulations this year, so that new homes are super energy efficient. And we need energy efficiency for existing homes now, so that - whatever low carbon heating fuel we’re using in the future - people don’t have to use so much of it and bills are kept low.
The Chancellor has said that the government will introduce a 'Future Homes Standard' that will, from 2025, require high energy efficiency and prevent the use of fossil-fuel heating systems in new homes. Instead, new homes will be heated with efficient, clean technologies such as heat pumps or large scale, clean district heating systems. But it’s important that we’re taking steps towards that now.
A planned change to the energy standards of building regulations in England will come into force during 2019. It’s vital that that this change sees a significant tightening of energy efficiency standards towards the Future Homes Standard. The worst outcome will be if the government kicks the can down the road, avoiding making important changes today because of its commitment to a 2025 standard.
The Chancellor has said that he will increase the proportion of green gas in the grid. That’s also good news. But it may be that, at first, decarbonised gas costs householders – directly or indirectly - more than the gas we use today.
The best way to ensure that heating our homes remains affordable, as we switch to lower carbon systems, is to make sure our homes are more energy efficient. That’s why it’s worrying that, despite the fact we’ve made huge improvements in the insulation of our homes in the last twenty years, this year there was no improvement reported in the energy efficiency of English homes. So the Chancellor's Statement on green gas and low carbon heating is welcome, but we also need a major announcement of new support for energy efficiency in the Comprehensive Spending Review, later in the year.