Cheapest form of energy, doing the basics first.

25th Mar 2024

 

They do say the cheapest form of energy is that which we save. And for years the ‘fabric first’ approach has been front and centre of UK energy policy thinking. Sadly, under the current government, that’s no more.

The energy efficiency industry has highlighted, for some years now, the failure to invest in fabric improvements. In the debate over how best to heat a home, how to retain that heat has been lost. That is wrong. It matters because it has a direct impact upon household bills. I know the issue of appliance efficiency gets everyone excited, well I mean everyone who is a nerd that is. It is energy bills that should really excite people, with appliance efficiency being just a part of that equation.

Insulation also plays a part. The quicker a building loses heat, the greater is the requirement to top up that heat from whatever source. That’s why loft and cavity wall insulation should be the very minimum requirements, in all suitable homes. Telling homeowners they don’t need to fit either to get access to a government grant is simply embarrassing. No sensible individual would replace a gas boiler with a heat pump and not look to save the heat that is generated, with such affordable measures. And let me make this observation on human behaviour, if you can afford to match fund a heat pump purchase to gain access to a £7500 taxpayer subsidy, then you are almost certainly able to afford loft insulation.

My point is that the recent announcement will make very little difference to the uptake of the heat pump cash bung scheme, but it sends a disturbing message about insulation to the everyone else. The government effectively have ended the consensus around ‘fabric first’.

Those still living in homes without loft insulation or uninsulated cavity walls are leaking energy – and for those believing it can’t be that many because it makes so much sense to get insulated – according to the English Housing Survey, 5 million homes do not have proper loft insulation levels, that’s a quarter of all homes with a loft. It’s time to do the basics.