Comment on new Government data showing increase in energy efficiency installations

The data undermines Government claims that the public are reluctant to have workers in their homes

By Kathy Grenville

Last updated:

The latest Government data on energy efficiency has been published today. It shows:

  • 324,169 energy efficiency and heating measures were installed in 137,161 British homes in 2020, the highest number since 2016 and up from 220,615 across 117,462 homes in 2019.
  • Of which, 237,430 were measures to cut energy waste from homes, such as insulation, compared to 154,241 in 2019.
  • Government policy supported the installation of 86,739 new gas boilers in British homes in 2020, compared with just 11,730 clean heat systems [1].
  • Under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, 114,099 measures were installed in Q4 2020, 47,693 more than in Q1 2020 and 33,854 more than in Q4 2019, undermining Government claims that the public are reluctant to have workers in their homes.
  • The North West (18%), Yorkshire and the Humber (12%), the West Midlands (12%) and Scotland (12%) have received the most measures, linking to the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ manifesto pledge.

Jess Ralston, Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said:

"The uptick in efficiency installations is good news, but still falls well short of the pace needed to make our homes net zero ready. The current limited scope of policies to cut carbon from buildings, as well a lack of clarity around the Green Homes Grant, means that much more is needed to deliver a decarbonised housing stock.

“While supporting gas boilers made sense ten years ago, funding new installations today does not. The Government is more than aware of the need to move to clean sources of heat, yet policy remains overwhelmingly skewed towards 20th century technology when we should be looking to the future. Every new boiler installed locks a family into more than a decade of reliance on dirty heat at home.

“It’s crystal clear that consumers have not been put off having tradespeople in their homes during coronavirus, undermining Government claims to the contrary. It’s insulting for hundreds of thousands of families that are keen to upgrade their home to hear suggestions that they are not, when Government data tells the opposite story.

“Energy efficiency provides a real chance to deliver on manifesto promises to ‘level up’ in areas like the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. There is a wealth of data showing the potential for building upgrades to provide the skilled, long-term jobs that the nation is crying out for, at the same time as cutting carbon and slashing energy bills”

Notes to editors:

[1] The figures for renewable heat systems supported by Government schemes in 2020 includes domestic heat pump and solar thermal systems installed under the Green Homes Grant (271) and Renewable Heat Incentive (11,018).

  • UK residential emissions in 2019 were 65.2MtCO2, or 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions. They have remained around this level since 2015.
  • The majority (52%) of homes in England and Wales are below Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C, the Government’s target set for all homes by 2035.
  • The Energy Company Obligation is a Government scheme that requires energy suppliers to fit energy efficiency measures in homes. It has been running since 2013, but since 2018 was refocussed entirely on fuel poor households.
  • ECO3 will run until 2022 and then will be replaced by ECO4 which will run until 2026. Recently, the Government confirmed that it will be upping the funding from £640m to £1bn per year from 2022.
  • The Green Homes Grant opened in September 2020 and provides up to £5,000 grant funding for various energy efficiency or low carbon heat measures, rising to up to £10,000 for low-income households. Recent media reports have cast doubt on the future of the scheme.
  • The Renewable Heat Incentive pays back the upfront costs of renewable heating systems over a 7-year period. It will close to new applications in 2022 and has been running since 2014. It is set to be replaced by the Clean Heat Grant, which aims to support the installation of 25,000 heat pumps and some biomass systems in larger buildings between 2022 and 2024, backed by £100m in Government support.