What’s the UK doing about home energy efficiency?

With the current furore surrounding housing energy efficiency ratings here in Australia, we thought we’d take a look at what’s happening in the UK and how they’re dealing with these issues.

Housing energy efficiency policies for England and Wales will require zero carbon emissions in homes built from 2016 onwards. The UK also have a single national standard for the design and construction of sustainable new homes, which has managed to reduce 100 standards to fewer than 10 (or from 1,000 pages of guidance to fewer than 100).

In addition, new plans will be introduced from 2018, requiring landlords to bring their properties to a minimum required efficiency rating. This will benefit tenants in the draughtiest homes in the country, currently paying up to £1,000 more than average in their energy bills due to poor insulation. Almost 10% of rental homes fall below the minimum rating.

Crucially, it’s bipartisan political support behind these schemes that seems to allow the UK to set targets that look beyond the next election cycle, and provide the vision that has them generally on-track to meet them. The Conservative's David Cameron, Labour's Ed Miliband and the Liberal Democrat's Nick Clegg, agreed in February to work towards a legally-binding global climate deal, to agree new UK emissions-cutting goals and to phase out unabated coal-fired power stations, whatever the outcome of the UK May 5 election.  

Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt has called on Australia’s political parties to follow Britain’s example by striking a joint pledge to urgently tackle climate change. Schmidt, who won the 2011 Nobel prize for physics, is keen to see a similar deal between the Coalition, Labor and the Greens in Australia.

“We should be inspired by what the three major parties in the UK have done, so soon before an election,” he told Guardian Australia. “I’d like to see the major parties do this in Australia, to come out with an accord to provide certainty.'

Our political leaders tell us we are waiting for the rest of the world to move on pricing carbon before we take action. Regardless of the carbon pricing mechanism we end up with, here is an example of what smarter nations are doing on the ground to minimise both the environmental and economic impacts of its implementation.

For anyone interested in understanding a bit more about how Habitech houses exceed the UK standards above, we are holding an Open Day at a project under construction in Hawthorn, this coming Saturday 21 March.

More info at: http://www.habitechsystems.com.au/solar-ext-open-day