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Net-zero naysayers: homeowners need your help not hindrance

Sarah Kostense-Winterton, Executive Director

Sarah Kostense-Winterton, Executive Director | Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association

4 min read Partner content

Executive Director of MIMA, Sarah Kostense-Winterton, sets out two practical solutions that can incentivise homeowners to improve the energy efficiency in their homes, while promoting individual choice and adhering to fiscal responsibility on the path to net-zero.

Net-zero by 2050 is an Everest-sized challenge that some fear and others hope will remain just a target. It will cost the earth economically and metaphorically, and the costs will only keep rising. Clearly taking a ‘doubt and dismiss’ stance to net-zero is easier than a ‘confront and crack’ approach.

Many net-zero naysayers nestled within the Conservative Party should be reminded that conservatism is rooted in the principles of home ownership, conservation of the natural environment, and the preservation of resources. The UK is gripped by a cost-of-living crisis and our energy security is threatened by Putin’s war in Ukraine, so how can any Conservative worth their salt ignore the fact that our 29m UK homes continue to seep and waste unnecessary energy? How can we ignore the fact that energy bills stay high, whilst guzzling 35% of the UK’s energy and accounting for 20% of our carbon emissions?

We must remain cognisant of fiscal responsibility, but solutions do exist to solve this issue that do not cost billions. These solutions ‘pay back’ to the economy, support jobs and skills, and help to build sustainable markets with resilient supply chains. These solutions engage homeowners and are rooted in their individual choice and responsibility, providing them with the right tools and information to make an informed decision.

For too long, the UK has sought to solve its energy efficiency woes with short-term ‘boom and bust’ grants and subsidies into the market. These have had limited effectiveness, but it is also not Conservative for the state to strong-arm homeowners. But there are very practical, achievable, and popular solutions that the government could progress:

1. Transforming the existing Stamp Duty tax to an Energy Saving Stamp Duty Incentive, combined with grants for lower-value homes, is a practical and effective structural solution, that works seamlessly with existing green policies, grants and subsidies. Stimulating the housing market to value improvements in home energy efficiency will provide long-term demand for mass-scale retrofit, support circa 70,000 jobs and drive innovative new approaches to delivering home upgrades.

“Crucially, this incentive can be revenue neutral, does not touch the Stamp Duty tax take of £17bn, and remains flexible to reflect changing economic or market circumstances.

With a homeowner low-energy retrofit market worth circa £17bn per annum, £8bn is directly attributed to the Energy Saving Stamp Duty Incentive. In addition there is the ‘halo effect’ on home retrofit and wider social benefits.

Energy efficient homes will be delivered without on-going government intervention, but with higher standards and lower energy bills across the UK.”

There are very practical, achievable, and popular solutions that government could progress

2. Making Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) ‘accurate, reliable and trusted’ to capture the actual energy usage of our homes. EPCs are theoretical and not actual energy estimates, and can be grossly inaccurate, meaning billpayers are paying considerably more for their bills.

“Moving away from a crude estimate of home efficiency performance to instead rely on tools able to verify that homeowners have received the efficient new or retrofitted home they were promised also takes away the risk of poor installation from the homeowner and puts the onus on the whole housing sector to deliver quality installations.

It is within our grasp for homeowners and local and national governments to be given the confidence that the energy efficiency measures in which they invest deliver real-world savings on energy bills and lower carbon emissions.”

So, perhaps it is time for the naysayers to say ‘yay’ to energy efficiency, and not dodge empowering the UK’s 19 million proud homeowners to save on their energy bills and improve the value of their homes. Surely, it is common sense and the Conservative thing to do.

MIMA represents the leading non-combustible insulation companies in the UK - Knauf Insulation, ROCKWOOL and Superglass. For more information, please contact sarah@mima.info or visit www.mima.info

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Read the most recent article written by Sarah Kostense-Winterton, Executive Director - Empowering British energy saving communities and businesses

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