It is idiocy that we are continuing to build energy-inefficient homes … NEW houses which we know before they are built will have to be retrofitted in a few years’ time. Why is every new home not required to be built with solar panels/tiles and a battery system? Not only would this help mitigate Climate Change, it would make homes more energy-affordable.
As part of its ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2050, the government last year pledged to toughen building regs for new-build housing from 2025 and consequently, in October, it published a ‘Future Homes Standard’ consultation: bit.ly/FHSC20. This is aimed mainly at planners, developers and suppliers – there are 69 questions in all, many highly technical – but there are some key questions which are matters of principle, where we as ordinary members of the public have a right to be heard:
QUESTION 1: THE FUTURE HOMES STANDARD
Question 1 proposes that houses built to the Future Homes Standard after 2025 should produce 75-80% less CO2 emissions than those we are building now, and asks whether we agree. By 2050, of course, we want everybody to be living in carbon neutral homes, but is this a suitable interim target for 2025?
QUESTION 6: ENERGY UPLIFT OPTIONS
Question 6 accepts that developers and suppliers will need time to prepare for the new regulations in 2025, and suggests interim requirements to be imposed immediately. On this it offers two options:
• (A) an uplift of 20%, based on much better materials – e.g. triple glazing – (adding £2,500 to the build-cost of a new home but saving households £59 a year on energy); this is the recommended option.
• (B) an uplift of 31%, based less on improvements to the fabric and more on adding renewable energy such as solar panels (adding £4,800 to the build-cost but saving £257 a year on energy bills).
[This is a difficult decision. Option (A) is a lower uplift, but it will be easier later on to add extras such as solar panels than it will be to retrofit the fabric of the house. And which is better for the climate – reducing the energy needed, or supplying extra energy to an inefficient system through PV?]
QUESTIONS 9 & 10: THE HEATING SYSTEMS OF 2025
The consultation suggests that HEAT PUMPS and HEAT NETWORKS will typically deliver the low carbon heating of the Future Homes Standard. This derives from its intention to phase out gas boilers after 2025, connected to its fear that builders will simply put in wasteful electric radiators and leave the home-owners to carry the cost. Therefore:
• Question 9 asks if we need to set a target to ensure that homes’ energy is affordable, and
• Question 10 asks if the best way to do this is to via a minimum energy efficiency rating.
RESPONDING TO THE CONSULTATION
If you wish to respond, this is your last chance, because the consultation closes on 7 February.
You can use the online survey (bit.ly/FHSQ20) or email: FutureHomesStandardConsultation@communities.gov.uk with your comments.