Retrofit, in the context of energy efficiency, is basically making changes to existing buildings so that carbon emissions as well as energy consumption are reduced. This consists of having energy-saving measures installed in your home including insulation and low-carbon heating alternatives.
The word ‘retrofit’ has been around for a long time and is commonly used when talking about retrofitting cars for example.
In recent times, it is used across media when discussing the importance of upgrading the energy efficiency of homes. We’ve probably all heard this being talked about a lot recently, given the spotlight on rising energy bills and the importance of finding ways to lower our fuel bills.
In this blog, we explore home energy retrofit, why demand from householders is growing during the energy bill crisis and exactly what measures we can install to help reduce our energy consumption.
Why is home energy retrofit so important?
Across the UK, householders are struggling with rising energy bills. It is a challenging and worrying time for us all, especially those on lower incomes with less disposable income available to cover the rise in costs.
April saw the energy price cap increase by 54% and many are predicting that there will be another significant increase when the energy price cap changes again in October.
According to the National Energy Action (NEA), a fuel poverty charity, they estimate that the number of UK households in fuel poverty is 6.7 million (October 2022). This is staggering. Given the current energy bill crisis, this number is expected to rise, meaning more households will be finding their energy bills simply unaffordable.
There are several factors which have led to an increase in our energy bills. According to Ofgem, the increase is driven by a record rise in global gas prices, with wholesale prices quadrupling. This additional cost is then passed on to us as the energy consumer.
Retrofitting homes to improve energy efficiency and change the way we heat our homes, has never been so important.
Energy home retrofit is part of the solution
With energy bills on the rise many householders are looking at ways to save money on their energy bills.
You can take a proactive approach by installing energy efficiency measures, such as insulation and low carbon heating, to reduce energy use and therefore your energy bills.
Benefits to installing energy-saving measures
- Reduced energy bills
- Helping to reduce your carbon footprint
- Increased comfort
- Improves the desirability of your home with increased energy efficiency rating
- Health benefits
According to the Office for National Statistics, three-fifths of assessed homes in England and Wales have low energy efficiency ratings. Surprisingly however, in the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, less than a fifth of people in Great Britain were considering improving their home’s energy efficiency.
Of those who were not considering any improvements, the most common reason for this was believing their home was already efficient enough, followed by not owning their own home and changes costing too much money.
Let’s address these potential barriers to considering improving the energy efficiency of the home.
Have an energy assessment
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) measures the energy efficiency of a property on a scale of A-G. An EPC will give you an indication of the types of improvements you could make to upgrade it’s energy efficiency and therefore save money on your energy bills.
Rather than assume your home is efficient, it is always worth checking the EPC on your property, or if you haven’t got one, arranging one with an organisation who has qualified Energy Assessors, like Dyson Energy Services.
Insulate your home
Before you look at switching to a low-carbon alternative to heating your home, it is best to first explore whether your home is suitably insulated.
Did you know? According to the Energy Saving Trust, around one-third of heat loss from most homes is through the walls and a quarter of heat is lost through the roof in an uninsulated home. Insulating your home will keep you warm and cosy in winter as well as dramatically reduce your energy bills.
Look at low carbon alternatives to heating your home
To help reduce carbon emissions which are impacting climate change, looking at greener ways to heat our home is important.
The UK Government wants us to be less reliant on gas supplies, and the rising wholesale costs associated with it, by exchanging fossil fuel boilers for low-carbon alternatives, such as air source heat pumps.
Generate your own electricity
Home energy retrofit doesn’t have to stop at installing insulation and a greener low-carbon heating alternative, have you considered solar PV and solar battery storage?
Increasingly, solar PV is becoming a popular energy efficiency measure for many householders. At a time where energy bills are rising at a ridiculous rate, why not generate your own electricity?
Funding and grants to help towards the cost
As we mentioned earlier, in the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, less than a fifth of people in Great Britain were considering improving their home’s energy efficiency and one reason was due to the cost. This survey was carried out before the energy price cap increase in April 2022, so it will be interesting to see how the results of that survey differ after the increase.
However, for many, it is understandable that cost has a big part to play in a householder’s decision-making process.
The good news is that there is funding available.
For those looking to install air source heat pumps, there is a £5,000 grant available to homeowners and Private Landlords through the Government Boiler Upgrade Scheme. This scheme has recently been extended, and is available to 2028.
For low-income households in receipt of certain qualifying benefits, there is funding for a range of measures (including solar PV, air source heat pumps and insulation) through a government backed Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) scheme.
There are insulation grants available to those who aren’t in receipt of benefits. Schemes such as the Connected for Warmth Scheme and The Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS), have a wider set of criteria such as Council Tax Bands A to D and EPC rating (for the GBIS).
With pressure on the government to achieve net zero by 2050 and help householders through the current cost of living crisis, it is expected that the Government will launch further schemes for householders across the UK, designed to incentivise home energy retrofit and reduce energy bills.