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National ‘war effort’ required to insulate homes, MPs say

A national ‘war effort’ is needed to improve the energy efficiency of UK homes and to cut energy bills, MPs have said.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said the government had missed a ‘window of opportunity’ to make energy efficiency improvements last summer.

This could have protected consumers from high energy bills permanently, MPs said, as 13 million in England alone live in homes below the recommended EPC rating of C.

The report also highlighted the UK’s maintained reliance on fossil fuels, still depending on them for 78% of its energy needs.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman and Conservative MP, Philip Dunne, said: ‘The Government’s British Energy Security Strategy and its intervention to cap household energy prices should be praised. But there have been significant missed opportunities in recent months: the Government could have gone further and faster.

brown and white concrete buildings beside body of water under blue sky during daytime

‘To reduce the UK’s demand on fossil fuels, we must stop consuming more than we need. We must fix our leaky housing stock, which is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and wastes our constituents’ hard-earned cash: we must make homes warmer and retain heat for longer.’

The committee is calling for at least one million energy efficiency installations a year by 2025 and a target of 2.5 million properties a year by 2030.

This is a significant step up from current rates: energy efficiency measures peaked in 2012 when 2.3 million installations were made, but in 2021 less than 100,000 upgrades were made.

Recent government announcements of a new Energy Efficiency Taskforce were commended by the EAC, as well as a commitment to increased investment from 2025.

But MPs said more funding and training in workforce skills would be needed to deliver energy efficiency improvements. They suggested that a proportion of the Energy Profits Levy should be allocated to this immediately.

The EAC also highlighted the rapid growth of renewable energy – records were broken on Wednesday when 87.6% of the UK’s energy supply came from zero carbon generators.

Now the committee is calling for greater focus on onshore wind and tidal energy and said developers should be required to fit solar panels on new homes to help meet targets of 70GW of solar capacity by 2035.

A clear end date for oil and gas licensing rounds is also required MPs said, as well as action by the sector to reduce operational emissions from extraction.

‘Bold action is needed now. The last year, with Russia’s aggression in Europe choking energy supplies, has shown us just how vulnerable our over-reliance on imported fossil fuels can make us,’ added Dunne. ‘The Committee has today set out a number of clear recommendations to drive real change: I hope the Government will act swiftly to implement them.’

Photo by Ray Harrington

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