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June 6, 2023

UK homes are losing heat up to three times faster than European countries

When it comes to central heating, homes in the UK are losing up to three times more heat than in Europe according to Tado – even when you factor in the differences in outside temperature. That’s an average of 3 degrees celsius over a five hour period – and while this study was completed in January 2020, the situation hasn’t changed. Furthermore, Chris Skidmore’s recent independent review of Net-Zero highlighted that after government funding ended in 2013, rates of insulation have dropped by a staggering 90%. Here are some of our biggest takeaways:

UK homes are colder – and many are poorly insulated 

Over a third of UK homes were built before 1946 and lack any form of insulation, which has a huge impact on the effectiveness of their central heating systems. Not only does it cost more to heat these older homes, their lack of efficiency means they will generally be colder than well-insulated properties. Poorly insulated homes can also have an adverse effect on health during the cold winter months; particularly for vulnerable people. Let’s not forget, we have an ageing population, therefore, it’s becoming increasingly important for homes to become equipped with adequate insulation. 

Interestingly, the NHS recently partnered with Energy Systems Catapult, launching a pilot study to “prescribe a warm home” in a bid to understand whether it is more cost-effective to fund heating for vulnerable people, as a preventive measure, vs the cost to fund treatments for illnesses related to poor heating in the home. Initial results from the pilot appear to be promising – and yet, while it’s a great initiative, ensuring that all UK homes are adequately insulated is key to realising these kinds of benefits.

We’re paying more than we need to for our energy

Losing heat three times faster than other countries means our UK heating systems have to work harder to maintain a specific temperature. That means, we’re paying more than we need to for our energy. The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) banding for UK properties indicates how efficient a building’s energy is. Prior to October 2022, a band G property cost almost £2,000 more a year than a property with a band C rating. A D-banded property cost £600 more to heat than a property with a C band (source: Hannon). Band C is considered to be the minimum target for adequate energy efficiency but currently, 17 million UK properties are below EPC band C (source: Heat in Buildings Strategy). Over the next 8 years, the efficiency of these homes must improve to at least EPC C and clearly, there’s a lot of work to do.

Heat loss is hampering our progress to decarbonise homes

17% of the UK carbon emissions come from domestic heating, therefore solving this challenge is essential to achieving Net-Zero. Heat pumps work best in well-insulated homes that don’t lose heat as quickly. A well insulated home can help improve comfort and reduce energy costs, because using less energy in the home means our heating systems don’t need to produce quite so much heat. Additionally, a heat pump can warm the home in winter and cool it in summer, if set up to do so. A huge benefit when thinking about the increasingly warm UK summers we are experiencing due to global warming. But heat pumps are not the only low – or zero – carbon heating solution available. Tepeo’s zero-emission boilers could work well for small and medium sized homes with good insulation.

What else can we do to create change?

While technologies are available to solve these challenges, technology alone won’t save the planet. Public understanding of the potential solutions is improving due to the high cost of energy, but needs further efforts. The best energy is the energy we don’t use. Access to financing will also help to make retrofitting accessible and affordable. Watch this space. 

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