Report: Millions of UK Homes Poorly Insulated

Jun 30, 2024 | Insulator Supplier

Over half of UK homes have really poor energy efficiency. We’re talking about 18 million homes with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or lower. Homes with a rating of F end up with huge energy bills, like £4,431 a year. But if your home has a C rating, your bill could be as low as £1,669. That’s a massive difference!

The main reason people want to make their homes more energy-efficient is to cut down on these crazy energy costs. Rightmove, which is a big name in real estate, is pushing for the next government to offer incentives for green home improvements. They think it will help both homeowners and landlords save on energy expenses.

Uninsulated UK houses

“While it’s a start to see some green support proposed in the party manifestos, there’s a big job to be done to address the widescale issue that at least 18 million UK homes need to be improved.”

Source: Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert

On top of that, the Institute of Health Equity and Friends of the Earth report that nearly 10 million households in the UK live in cold, damp, and poorly insulated homes (see free cavity wall insulation). That’s about one-third of all homes! According to the report, “Living in these conditions leads to significant health and economic problems.”

For health impacts, the report states that living in cold homes can double the risk of new mental health issues and triple the risk of making existing ones worse. Physical health also takes a hit, leading to problems like heart attacks and respiratory issues. Especially for kids, it can harm their lung and brain development. According to the report, “1 in 4 children living in cold homes experience multiple mental health symptoms.”

UK homes

Economically, this cold homes crisis costs the UK tens of billions every year. This includes healthcare costs for the NHS and lost productivity. According to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Group, “The coldest homes cost society £18 billion annually when you include carbon costs.” You can find more detailed data in the BRE Group’s report.

The report also highlights how the UK has some of the oldest and least energy-efficient homes in Europe. Installation rates for energy efficiency measures have dropped by 90% since 2013. The report suggests, “A national insulation program costing around £74.5 billion is essential to address this issue.”

Socially, it’s the vulnerable groups that suffer the most. People with pre-existing health conditions, older adults, kids, and low-income families are hit the hardest. For example, the report mentions, “Disabled individuals often face fuel debt and severe health risks from insufficient heating.” You can read more about these impacts in the Institute of Health Equity’s report.

The report suggests several solutions, including:

  • A 10-year, £60+ billion national insulation program to significantly improve home energy efficiency.
  • Higher wages and financial support for low-income households to help them afford proper heating.
  • Tougher energy efficiency standards for rental homes with fiscal incentives to prevent rent hikes.
  • Building more social homes to reduce housing costs and improve living standards.
Heat loss map by tado

Graphic Source: Tado. Note: Based on a sample of 80,000 European homes

The cold homes crisis has significant social, health, and economic impacts. Urgent action and investment are needed to tackle these issues. Cold and poorly insulated homes lead to serious health problems, including increased risks of mental health issues, heart attacks, and respiratory conditions. Economically, the high costs of healthcare and lost productivity due to cold homes burden the UK substantially.

Addressing this crisis requires a comprehensive approach, including a national insulation program, higher wages and financial support for low-income households (see free grants for low income families). Tougher energy efficiency standards for rental homes, and building more social housing are needed. Implementing these measures would not only improve living conditions but also reduce healthcare costs and support the UK in meeting its climate goals.

For more detailed information, you can read the full reports we based this article on below. These reports provide in-depth insights into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to the cold homes crisis in the UK, highlighting the urgent need for action and the benefits of investing in energy efficiency and better housing standards.

Article written by
Andy Thoburn

Andy Thoburn

With over a decade immersed in UK energy policies, Andy offers insights backed by deep industry expertise. Every detail in this article is a testament to thorough research and a commitment to accuracy.
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