Making homes more energy efficient could create up to 138,000 new jobs in the UK, while also injecting £9.8bn into the economy by 2030, a new report has found.
The report, by Cambridge Econometrics for Greenpeace UK, found that a country-wide project to insulate homes and swap gas boilers for heat pumps, could also unlock lower bills, less fuel poverty, save the NHS up to £850m a year.
To achieve this, the UK would have to install a little over 1m heat pumps every year by 2030, and also upgrade all buildings to an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C at the least – which is in line with the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) mapping.
The average home in the UK is rated within band D, lower than the intended target, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Though ONS found that new homes were more energy efficient than already existing buildings and added that the average energy efficiency rating for both types of dwellings had not changed in recent years.
Insulating homes more effectively is also set to cut health impacts related to cold homes, which currently costs the NHS up to £2bn a year, the report added.
The findings come ahead of the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy and Spending Review next month, which is expected to outline plans for decarbonising homes and buildings, as well as the finances made available to do it.
If the government sticks to its current plan, it will add only £3.9bn to the economy instead, while creating 71,500 new jobs by 2030.
“This analysis highlights the substantial economic benefits that would result from a programme to encourage the deployment of heat pumps and energy efficiency measures into people’s homes,” associate director at Cambridge Econometrics, Jon Stenning, said.
“There are concerns that the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy and funding made available in next month’s Spending Review will fall short of what is required to tackle emissions from housing and fail to capitalise on the thousands of jobs that could be created and economic growth it could provide.”
The findings also assume that the government will provide £4,000 grants to households to install heat pumps over the first three years, with grants then falling over time to make sure the cost of installing a heat pump is equal to that of replacing a gas boiler.
It also assumes that the government will cover 45 per cent of energy efficiency improvement costs.
“A more ambitious plan, which will sufficiently slash emissions from homes, could create many thousands of new jobs right across the country and pump billions into the economy,” Greenpeace UK’s policy director, Doug Parr, said.
“This should be music to the prime minister and chancellor’s ears.”
The report follows a string protests targeting the M25 last week from activists at Insulate Britain. The group called upon prime minister Boris Johnson to insulate homes, which are among the least fuel efficient in Europe.
The protests prompted comments from transport secretary Grant Shapps, who took to Twitter to say: “This is dangerous and counterproductive. We all agree that climate change must be tackled, but this sort of behaviour achieves nothing, puts drivers at risk and increases pollution.
“I expect the police to take swift action to clear the roads.”