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Future-proofing tomorrow’s housing from future shock

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Wayne Mackay, Head of Policy & Public Affairs

Wayne Mackay, Head of Policy & Public Affairs | Electrical Safety First

3 min read Partner content

With the government setting a target of achieving net-zero by 2050, Wayne Mackay, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Electrical Safety First believes that electrical safety is not being given the attention it needs.

In the journey to a net-zero UK, our homes and energy usage must undergo fundamental changes. However, electrical safety, a critical aspect in our electric-centric world, often goes overlooked in low carbon strategies.

Electrical Safety First’s report, Future Homes: Electrical Safety in the Net Zero Home, addresses this issue head-on. It examines housing infrastructure, electric vehicles (EVs), product safety, and the installer base, offering recommendations to enhance electrical safety in future homes.

With a focus on housing and transport due to these sectors significant greenhouse gas contributions, the move toward net-zero requires low carbon heating in all new homes by 2025 (2024 in Scotland). Our future homes will feature high insulation, on-site renewable electricity generation, smart technologies, and, potentially, EV home-charging points. Electricity must and will play a key role in new builds, which present fewer challenges than retrofitting existing dwellings. This is a significant problem, given the UK’s ageing housing stock of around 27m households, 85% of which are currently heated by gas.

“Our research found that 74% of those who charge their EVs do so via household sockets, often by daisy-chain extension leads, increasing their risk of electric shock or fire”

Introducing unfamiliar technologies, whether in new builds or retrofits, raises inherent safety risks for consumers and installers. Safeguarding our homes becomes increasingly vital as more companies embrace hybrid and home-based working.

Establishing home offices paves the way for smart home integration and whole-house internet.

Replacing around 38m cars with ultra-low emission vehicles is essential to meet climate change targets. Drivers naturally prefer EV home charging points, but the lack of accessible charging infrastructure leads to risky behaviour. Our research found that 74% of those who charge their EVs do so via household sockets, often by daisy-chain extension leads, increasing their risk of electric shock or fire. This issue is particularly problematic in flats and high-density housing.

Achieving net-zero safely will require a substantial number of qualified installers. However, there is already a skills shortage, requiring an additional 12,500 – 15,000 electricians by 2024. Expanding the trained and certified workforce in both traditional and low carbon technologies is essential to meet climate change targets. Our report recommends that the government introduce a policy framework to ensure long-term certainty of demand and encourage investment in upskilling.

A safe and effective path to net-zero also demands public engagement, incentives, and education. Our experts play a crucial role in driving this conversation, because our mission is to ensure the safe use of electricity for everyone in the UK, today and tomorrow.

Electrical Safety First is the UK charity dedicated to preventing deaths, injuries, and fires caused by electricity. Find out more at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/what-we-do/our-policies/westminster/future-homes 

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Read the most recent article written by Wayne Mackay, Head of Policy & Public Affairs - Seeking Safety for the Most Vulnerable – Escalating Action Against E-Bike Battery Fires

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