A new report published by The Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ (IMechE) entitled ‘Heat Energy: The Nation’s Forgotten Crisis’ is calling for the Westminster Government to urgently introduce legislation for a national insulation programme to cover every UK home.
According to The Institution, this new legislation would declare all UK building stock as ‘national infrastructure’ and provide incentives, such as a reduction in stamp duty, for homeowners to install insulation to national standards. For those who cannot afford to pay, a national scheme to cover the cost of work would be funded by general taxation.
The report also calls for installers of energy demand reduction measures to be trained to meet a mandatory competence registration, similar to the existing Gas Safe Register for gas installers.
Dr Tim Fox, Lead Author of the report and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said, “The UK’s housing stock is some of the most poorly insulated in the developed world, largely because of the age of much of the country’s domestic dwellings and the failure of successive Governments to take the meaningful action required on energy efficiency measures.
“Poorly insulated homes cost the NHS an estimated £1.36 billion every year, with one estimate placing 6.5 million UK homes in fuel poverty.
In addition, the report describes the amount of money and fuel that is wasted on heating poorly insulated homes as ‘appalling’.
“Incentives could include schemes such as enabling sellers to offset the cost of upgrading their insulation to national standards against the stamp duty payable on the sale of the home.
“Government should also recognise the importance of the installer community in achieving its energy security and decarbonisation goals for heat provision and introduce ‘free’ training alongside a new mandatory competence registration for installers of energy efficiency and sustainable supply systems. It also needs to ensure that heat infrastructure, in individual buildings through to large-scale District Heating networks, is co-ordinated and strategically managed.”
According to the report, the UK’s current heat infrastructure evolved in response to the availability of abundant supplies of affordable North Sea gas but is no longer fit for purpose to meet the country’s future energy security challenges, social needs and decarbonisation aspirations.
Among the report’s recommendations are:
- Declaring all UK building stock ‘national infrastructure’ and instigate a legislatively driven insulation programme;
- Recognising the key role of the installer community and instigate a mandatory national installer ‘sustainable heat’ certification scheme;
- Tackling the provision of larger pieces of national heat infrastructure, as well as the interconnection and integration of heat systems with other energy networks.
Ironically, the report was published in the same week when the European Court of Justice upheld a legal attempt by the EU Commission to outlaw reduced rates of VAT on energy saving products for British homes. The judgement leaves millions of UK homeowners and householders facing the prospect of paying more for energy saving materials and equipment.
A copy of the Institution for Mechanical Engineers’ report can be downloaded here.