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Baker Homes Blog

ECO funding changes affect improvements to home energy efficiency

Posted by Emma Jones on 29/07/15 07:30

SAP is a tool commonly used to measure the energy efficiency of a home and as such, it is a useful tool when trying to improve the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock. Since it is a uniform standard, housing associations and regulators can use it to ascertain and compare the quality of stock.

In our latest research, we compared the SAP data of social landlords who had undergone environmental benchmarking with the rest of the social housing sector. The average SAP score of assessed landlords was 70, compared to the sector average of 66. In fact, only two assessed organisations had an average SAP of less than 66, as seen on this graph.

This result remained unchanged from the same assessment carried out in 2024/13. This is partly due to some landlords undergoing the assessment for the first time. They are less likely to have higher average SAP scores as they have not already benefitted from improvements made as a result of previous assessments. But even taking this factor into account, is that the rate of SAP improvements overall seems to be slowing. This is concerning.

Initial improvements to homes are usually made through making relatively easy changes, such as replacing old, inefficient boilers or cavity wall insulation. Subsequent improvements then have to be made on properties that present further challenges, or have already received ‘quick fix’ solutions. These improvements could be external wall insulation, which tend to be more disruptive to residents, and, crucially, more expensive.

SHIFT landlords are making these changes in a variety of ways. Colin Salt, Sustainability Manager at Symphony Group, revealed “we are looking to embark on a significant programme of PV installations, which could cut CO2 emissions by 2,500 tonnes a year.” Steve Coffey, Chief Executive of Liverpool Mutual Homes, said "we've prioritised raising the energy efficiency of our existing stock as we know the impact that warmer homes have on residents - healthier, cheaper to run and above all, nicer to live in."

These measures have been most heavily affected by changes to the ECO scheme, which has significantly reduced funding for these more extensive types of measures. Since SHIFT assessed landlords tend to be further down the route of improving homes, they have been especially hit by these funding changes.

However, despite this slow down in improvements, changes are still happening. As a result of efforts from SHIFT landlords, since 2024, 57,616 more tonnes of carbon are being saved annually.

Opportunity  

These figures show that improvements to the energy efficiency of homes has stalled.  That is a shame.  The Budget announcements of cuts to support for renewables and energy efficiency make further improvements even harder.  The environmental risks of this approach are enormous but the decisions seem all the more perverse when the benefits to jobs, health and energy security of a more sustainable approach are realised.  A major programme of energy efficiency works for the UK's existing homes, for example, doesn’t just help tackle climate change but would also reduce the scandal of thousands of excess winter deaths each year.

Improving homes with insulation, air tightness and appropriate ventilation can reduce household energy bills by hundreds of pounds, generate tens of thousands of jobs and improve the quality of homes. Indeed research from Nottingham City Homes and Nottingham Trent University concluded that every £1 pound spent on retrofitting generates a social value of £4.76.  Jobs also result. Research by Cambridge Econometrics shows that up to 130,000 jobs are likely to result from continued significant investment in retrofitting homes. If the Chancellor wants to stimulate the economy, reduce the NHS bill and improve quality of life then retrofitting is a big part of the answer.  We continue to call for a replacement for the Green Deal and for retrofit of our homes to be a national infrastructure project. 

So what do you think?  What needs to be done to help improve homes and meet the environmental challenge of our times.

 

To read more about how social landlords are improving their environmental performance across a broad spectrum of measures, download the full report here.

 

Our thanks to some of the organisations involved in SHIFT

 

   

Topics: Retrofit, SHIFT accreditation standard, SHIFT landlord, Energy efficiency

'THE REVIEW' details the achievements and progress of the social housing sector on key environmental performance metrics. Download the report below 

Baker Homes, The Review, UK social landlords environmental performance, environmental benchmarking

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