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Raising the minimum energy efficiency standard to a grade C for privately rented homes could save bill payers around £570 a year, according to research.
According to a report by the E3G think tank, Cutting Energy Bills and Raising Standards for Private Tenants, this translates into savings of a total of £1.75 billion per year across the UK.
The government has been accused of keeping up with proposals that would require homeowners to upgrade their properties to at least a C rating under the energy performance certification (EPC) program.
Two-thirds of rented properties are below the recommended minimum, and millions of people live in areas that do not meet the legal definition of a “decent” home. One in four renters experience fuel poverty.
Dan Wilson Craw, vice president of the Generation Rent campaign group, said: “Homeowners are improving insulation and heating in private rental homes, allowing their tenants to heat their homes for less, which not only improves comfort levels, but also reduces humidity and air humidity. and the health problems they cause. The government must go further, not just for the tenants, but for the good of the planet and the energy security of the country.”
Currently, homeowners can only rent homes that qualify for an E rating, making them expensive to air draft and heat. However, as tenants often pay the heating bills, and due to the shortage of rental properties available, landlords have little incentive to improve their rents with insulation, draft-proofing, double glazing, and more efficient heating systems.
Ministers initiated a consultation on raising the minimum requirement for privately rented homes in 2020 to force landlords to meet the EPC C standard from 2025 for new tenancies and 2028 for existing tenancies.
However, these recommendations have not yet been enacted.
Colm Britchfield, a policy adviser at E3G, said: “The plight of many rental homes is a growing national scandal. Because so much energy is wasted in partially inefficient homes, tenants face very high bills. The government has a number of oven-ready regulations to fix this. Now they need to make them into law.”
However, the National Residential Homeowners Association (NRLA) has said that even if the government takes action now, it will be too late to introduce stricter requirements from 2025. The NRLA claimed that the proposals are now “dead in the water”.
Chris Norris, the group’s policy director, said: “NRLA wants to see rental properties as energy efficient as possible. This will only be achieved on the basis of viable and realistic ambitions and government policy.
“It has been two years since the government ended its consultation on energy efficiency standards for rental housing. Given that no response has been given to this, it is unrealistic to assume that within two years every new lease will be on a rental property with an energy performance rating of at least C. a realistic set of goals.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Thanks to government support, the number of homes with an energy efficiency rating of C or higher has increased from 13% in 2010 to 46% and is increasing. We are investing over £6.6 billion to help decarbonize homes and buildings and ensure all homes meet the EPC C band by 2035.
“The Energy Company Obligation runs from 2022 to 2026 and will help hundreds of thousands of families with energy-saving measures such as insulation, with an average energy bill savings of £300 per year. Installations are now increasing and we have announced a further £1bn extension of the plan to begin in the spring of 2023.”
Former Tory minister Chris Skidmore warned in his government review of the UK’s progress towards reaching the legally binding net-zero emissions target by 2050 that the UK’s housing stock has failed to improve energy efficiency. Around 14% of the UK’s carbon emissions are associated with residential heating.