IMPROVING the energy efficiency of homes would bring a £39 billion boost to Britain through a range of economic and social benefits by 2030, according to a new report from Citizens Advice.

The charity is urgently calling for a major programme of retrofitting – paid for via public and private financing – to get all homes capable of it reaching a level C on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) by 2030. It says investment in basic bill-saving measures like insulation is a win-win: tackling health inequalities, reducing people’s energy bills and helping the UK reach its net zero targets.

New research from the charity found that over 15 million homes across Great Britain are energy inefficient. The vast majority of these, 13 million homes, could be upgraded to reach EPC C, delivering nearly £24 billion in consumer bill savings by 2030. The charity argues that reducing bills will allow some consumers to spend more in the local economy – boosting regional economic growth.

Research shows upgrading homes in the North West to EPC C would deliver £5 billion in benefits by the end of the decade, boosting the economy, reducing air pollution and increasing quality of life. The region has some of the highest levels of fuel poverty in the country, in part because more than half the homes across the North West fall short of EPC C.

Citizens Advice argues that insulating 13 million homes to EPC C across the UK would have a profound impact on health across Great Britain, with even greater benefits evident in areas with older building stock such as Wales and the Midlands.

An insulation drive could effectively prevent millions of people developing respiratory conditions including asthma. Research from Citizens Advice suggests more than 650,000 new cases of childhood asthma could be avoided by the end of the decade. In addition, the charity’s research suggests improving the country’s leaky housing stock would prevent more than half a million children and adults from developing mental health conditions associated with a cold home. This would reduce the number of days of missed school and work due to illness. And in the long-term, it would be likely to reduce the number of people kept out of work due to ongoing health conditions. Insulating the nation to EPC C level also reduces patient numbers by 30 per cent for conditions made worse by a cold home.. The research shows that a major programme of retrofitting would save the NHS £2 billion by 2030.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The impact of raising minimum energy standards would be profound: giving a boost to household budgets, improving people’s health, increasing energy security and helping the UK reach its net zero targets.

“This report shows that insulating our homes is about so much more than reducing energy bills. It’s a long-term solution that makes running the NHS cheaper and boosts quality of life in areas that need it most. The government must make improving our draughty homes a top priority.”

* Read Home advantage: Unlocking the benefits of energy efficiency here.

* Source: Citizens Advice