Azara Blog: UK homes are not very energy efficient and there is little incentive to be so

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Date published: 2008/04/02

The BBC says:

The government must do more to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes, MPs have said.

A drive for improvements in new homes means "insufficient priority" for existing stock, the communities and local government committee said.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn agreed the energy efficiency of older buildings must be improved, adding that "simple steps" would cut emissions.
...
Ministers have promised to make every new home built in England "zero carbon" from 2016.

But the committee said current housing policy "risks neglecting the environmental impact" of the UK's existing housing stock of more than 25 million homes.
...
The committee also proposes that energy performance certificates, contained in Home Information Packs (HIPs), be required for homeowners seeking planning permission.
...
"We need neither a mass demolition programme followed by the construction of replacement eco-homes nor to preserve every last pre-1919 building precisely as it was on the day it was built."

MPs have a habit of producing reports that say nothing new, and this one is no exception. Their one suggestion quoted in the article, that "energy performance certificates ... be required for homeowners seeking planning permission" (of any sort???) is just plain silly. It's just adding cost to what is already a ridiculously over-bureaucratic (and hence over-costly) procedure, for no real reason and no real gain.

In a coordinated article, the BBC says:

UK home-owners are not prepared to make the changes needed to live in "zero carbon" homes, according to a report.

People felt the eco-friendly buildings would require extra maintenance and that they would have to cut back on certain appliances, it added.

The National House-Building Council (NHBC) Foundation study said buyers also feared the homes would cost more.
...
The findings of the report were based on more than 500 interviews with homeowners and nine focus groups, which were carried out by research organisation EPR.

Despite widespread media coverage of climate change, the study found that energy efficiency was not a major factor when it came to choosing a new home.

Instead, it said, most respondents would prefer a better kitchen or bathroom.

NHBC chief executive Imtiaz Farookhi said the results came as no surprise.

"What has happened since the Stern Review is that there has been a general understanding of global warming and carbon emissions," he told BBC News.

But the debate about house building has largely been between government, regulators and the construction industry; in short, the supply side.

"The demand side - home-buyers and home-owners - actually haven't been involved in this process.

"Unless people actually understand and engage in this, they are not going to be willing to buy these homes and change their lifestyles."

Any study carried out by the NHBC of course has to be taken with a pinch of salt. But they are correct. The ruling elite have ignored home-buyers and home-owners because who cares what the peasants think. Most of the scare stories about global warming that the ruling elite place in the media focus on the alleged evil of the car and plane, and nothing else, and certainly not homes. And the government has set the tax on domestic gas and electricity supplies to be just 5%, so way below the near 400% tax it puts on petrol. So it's really not at all surprising that home owners would rather worry about their kitchen than about their insulation. They are not paying anywhere near the correct environmental price for their domestic energy consumption.

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