The Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition, made up of NatWest, British Gas, Worcester Bosch, and Citizens Advice, has completed the process of upgrading nine properties across the UK in their Home Improvement Pilot.
The results of the Pilot are outlined in the Coalition’s third report, entitled Home is Where the Heat Is: Outcomes Report, delivered in Parliament this morning.
The Pilot demonstrates how rolling out energy efficiency across the UK could help bolster energy security, and deliver positive impacts for consumers from a cost, carbon, and comfort perspective.
The Coalition’s report also sets out the growth opportunities for UK business in the energy efficiency sector, and how business and government can work together to facilitate a nationwide rollout of energy efficiency measures.
The Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition has upgraded nine properties across the UK in the Home Improvement Pilot. By studying the rollout of home improvement upgrades on a case-by-case basis, the Coalition has uncovered important lessons and insights.
This builds on its work over the past two years, where the Coalition set out to move the conversation around energy efficiency from the conceptual world to the real world. The Coalition maintains that consumers must always be at the heart of the conversation, as it is real people and their families, that will have to undergo a disruptive, albeit ultimately beneficial, home improvement process.
The main findings from the pilot include: 1) whilst a home improvement process does involve disruption, consumers feel the process is immediately worth the effort, although cost remains the main upfront barrier; 2) each consumer’s journey will be different, and due to the variety in the UK’s housing stock, some will require bespoke solutions; and 3) planning restrictions can make home improvement projects complicated and local councils also need to raise their awareness of home improvement measures.
The results of the pilot, and the lessons learned, come as the Coalition releases its third major report, Home is Where the Heat Is: Outcomes Report, which was unveiled this morning in the Houses of Parliament – at an event attended by over 100 industry, political, and third-sector stakeholders.
There are also clear growth opportunities for UK business to develop a substantial supply chain for the sector, which policymakers and businesses must now consider carefully. It is also clear that action on energy efficiency is critical to improving the UK’s energy security, reducing the amount of energy needed to power UK homes, as well as reducing the pressures consumers feel on their energy bills.
The results of the pilot shed light on some of the main challenges facing a national rollout of energy efficiency measures, which encompass: a) the supply chain, which needs to be developed further, b) the importance of improving social housing across the UK, not only to reduce energy costs, but also to stimulate scale in the market, and c) the need to address the private rented sector, where tenants are often not in control of improving the energy efficiency of their properties.
The nine homes shared a funding pot of £250,000, provided by NatWest Group, British Gas, and Worcester Bosch. In return for having the home upgrades funded for them, the households agreed to share their experience of the process, with their thoughts and comments detailed in the Report.
Over the coming year, the Coalition will carefully monitor the impacts of the home improvements to determine the exact benefits to each household, analysing how much consumers can expect to save on their bills, as well as looking at reductions in carbon emissions and how comfortable each household is – the Coalition will report on these in 2024.
Lloyd Cochrane, Head of Mortgages at NatWest, said: “At NatWest, we seek to put the customer at the heart of energy efficiency interventions. Our Home Improvement Pilot has shown that not only are energy efficiency upgrades desirable, but with increased collaboration between Government and business – working hand in hand – they are achievable, as well as key to improving the country’s energy security and reduce the financial burden faced by consumers.”
Carl Arntzen, CEO of Worcester Bosch, said: “Following more than a year of working tirelessly to upgrade nine properties, we fear that the supply chain is not yet equipped to deliver a nationwide energy efficiency upgrade campaign. We need more action to stimulate demand, which will help overcome many of the barriers we encountered in our Home Improvement Pilot. There is still time to make this the decade of delivery, but we need to act now.”
Gillian Cooper, Head of Energy Policy at Citizens Advice, said: “Improving the energy efficiency of people’s homes should be a major policy priority for this and future governments. Improved energy efficiency means safer and warmer homes, lower bills, and better health outcomes, as well as helping the UK reach its net zero target. This report is an important contribution to our understanding of how we can help people manage this process.”
Andrew Middleton, Managing Director of British Gas Zero, said: “Through our experience as one of the largest heat pump and boiler installers in the UK, we have played a frontline role in the Home Improvement Pilot. Using the learnings from this trial, it is clear that demand density and commonalities between properties are critical levers that we can act on to stimulate a new, national market for energy efficiency.”
About the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition:
Since the launch of the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition by NatWest, British Gas, Worcester Bosch, and Citizens Advice in 2021, our aim has been to raise awareness around the key blockers to upgrading the UK’s housing stock on a national level, taking a consumer-centric approach to the challenge. Our work to date consists of launching our first report ‘Home is Where the Heat is’, with Lord Deben, former Chair of the Climate Change Committee, running two panel events at COP26 – one of which was the only blue zone event on energy efficiency, dinners with industry stakeholders and Parliamentarians, roundtables with Andy Burnham Mayor of Greater Manchester and Andy Street and the Mayor of the West Midlands. Last year, in October 2022, we launched our second report in Parliament, which updated on our Home Improvement Pilot programme and set out key asks for the Government.
About the Home Improvement Pilot programme:
Our Home Improvement Pilot programme is designed to identify the key blockers to a nationwide rollout of energy efficiency measures. In total the programme has retrofitted nine households located in Pontypool, London, Kent, Swansea, Surrey, Tyne and Wear, Liverpool, and two properties in Merseyside at no cost to the household/homeowners, in exchange for them sharing their experience. These pilots have been invaluable for the Coalition and have allowed us to gain an insight into the broader problems the UK is facing.