The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is expected to soon set out a new energy security strategy in the wake of the energy supply crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine. The biggest and most rapid action the UK can take to wean itself off Russian gas and expensive fossil fuels is to invest in home energy efficiency and renewables.
- Nearly 90% of the increase in bills over the last year is due to the rising price of gas, which has more than tripled over the same period. Most of the remaining increase is the cost of suppliers going bust.
- The UK has the oldest, most poorly insulated housing stock in western Europe, and over 85% of our homes are connected to the gas grid – leaving UK families sharply exposed to the volatility of international gas markets.
- UK homes “leak” heat up to three times more quickly than more energy-efficient homes on the continent.
- After cuts to energy efficiency programmes in 2013, following a call by David Cameron to ‘cut the green crap’ the number of homes getting their lofts or cavity walls insulated each year plummeted by 92% and 74% respectively – and has not recovered. By the end of 2021, a running total of 9 million homes have missed out on 18 million installations. Energy bills in the UK are as a result £2.5bn higher than they would have been, costing the average household at least £60 a year.
- By 2017, energy efficiency measures installed in UK homes since 2004 were already saving the average household £500 in annual energy costs. By 2020, gas consumption in homes was down 25% compared with 2004 and electricity consumption was down by 13%. Given today’s prices, bill savings from energy efficiency measures installed to date are much higher. Improving energy inefficient homes to an Energy Performance Certificate rating of ‘C’ would save the average household at least a further £500 based on the April 2022 price cap increase.
- Energy efficiency is responsible for 25% of pre-pandemic UK economic growth since 1971.
- Back when prices were low, energy demand in UK homes could be cut by at least a quarter cost-effectively. There is technical energy efficiency potential to reduce energy demand in homes by half. With the typical energy bill at £2,000 from April, it is therefore highly cost-effective to adopt measures to reduce the bill by at least £500.
- A national retrofit programme would sustain a GDP increase of 0.75% to 2040, support 190,000 jobs in energy efficiency and clean heat, and result in over 100,000 net additional jobs when the programme is complete.
- 4% of our gas comes from Russia. Energy efficiency, clean heat and renewables investment could eliminate all Russian gas within a year. By 2025 they could replace four times the gas we currently import from Russia, which could enable the UK to help the EU reduce its dependency on Russian gas.
- Even if the production of oil and gas in the UK is ramped up, it will do almost nothing to reduce prices for UK households because the price is set in global markets.
The solution is a Home Energy Security programme across this decade to bring the UK housing stock up to the highest energy efficiency standard possible, leaving no home behind. This should include long term policies and public investment to help everyone insulate their homes and where possible, install a heat pump. There is no greater action the Government can take to help everyone to cut their energy bills and rapidly wean the UK off Russian gas. The quest for energy independence and security starts at home.
Available for comment on UK energy security
E3G staff are available for comment – please contact them directly:
Ed Matthew, Director of Campaigns, E3G
m: +44 (0)7827157906, email@example.com
Pedro Guertler, Programme Leader, Place Based Transitions, E3G
m: +44 (0)7867314004, firstname.lastname@example.org
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