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Target home energy efficiency to combat Covid-19 economic slump, says report

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Improving the energy efficiency of homes in the UK should be a priority for the Government as it will create a swathe of badly needed jobs and help the UK meet its carbon targets, a report suggests.

With greenhouse gas emissions dipping significantly during the lockdown, the Prime Minister has said he wants the UK to “entrench those gains” as the lockdown lifts, by prioritising investment in low-carbon infrastructure.

The study from the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group (EEIG) claims that home improvements such as insulation can save households around £500 a year.

The UK’s housing stock represents 20 per cent of emissions and the current pace of decarbonisation is not yet on track for 2050.

In addition, the EEIG said that many energy efficiency improvements can be started immediately as they meet the Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.

The report finds that a mass programme of home improvements could support over 150,000 skilled and semi-skilled jobs by 2030, while reducing household energy expenditure by £7.5bn per year at today’s prices.

In 2018, a report claimed that 80 per cent of the homes people will inhabit in 2050 have already been built. This means that a programme of upgrades to old infrastructure will be needed, as relying on improved building regulations for new-builds will not be enough.

The UK has already passed a law enshrining its commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Pedro Guertler, one of the authors of the report, said that £100m in grants due to come onstream in 2022 for people to install clean technology such as heat pumps - which heat homes without using gas or oil - should be introduced immediately.

“There is no other infrastructure project that can do more for the UK’s clean and resilient economic recovery than making our buildings energy efficient,” Guertler said.

“It can quickly boost local jobs in areas of greatest need, stimulate demand by saving households hundreds of pounds whilst improving health and slashing carbon emissions.”

It must be at the heart of the Chancellor’s stimulus plan, he urged.

Tom Thackray, director of infrastructure and energy at business group the CBI, said: “A national energy efficiency programme is long overdue and now is the time to deliver.

“This is essential if we are to reach net-zero emissions and delivering this programme would create a major employment opportunity, providing much-needed jobs across the UK and supporting our economic recovery.”

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