Houzen raises concerns over new Heat and Buildings Strategy


Published November 3, 2021

Proptech investment platform houzen‘s Sustainability Analyst, Eashita Saxena, shares her thoughts… 29th October 2021

Proptech investment platform houzen has raised concerns over the government’s long-awaited Heat and Buildings Strategy. The strategy lays out, “how the UK will decarbonise our homes, and our commercial, industrial and public sector buildings, as part of setting a path to net zero by 2050,” according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. However, houzen’s Sustainability Analyst, Eashita Saxena, is worried the strategy has missed an opportunity for real, impactful change.

“While it’s good that the government is trying to tackle the issue of heat and buildings, the recently published strategy feels rather thin in a number of respects. The heat pump targets, for example, fall short of the huge-scale changes we need to enact in order to reduce the impact of our homes on the environment.” Eashita Saxena, Sustainability Analyst, houzen

According to the Climate Change Committee, around 14% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the way we heat our homes. There are around 30 million homes in the UK, yet the country is currently installing heat pumps at a rate of around 36,000 homes per year. The cost of installing a heat pump ranges from £8,000 to £14,000 and, according to the Energy and Utilities Alliance, 54% of people can’t afford that, while 26% would pay it only with financial support. The Heat and Buildings Strategy launched with much fanfare over the £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which will grant homeowners £5,000 to replace their gas boiler with a heat pump. The limitation to this grant is that, based on these numbers, the boiler upgrade scheme can support the installation of 90,000 heat pumps in the next three years.

That’s a slower rate of progress than we’re already achieving. And it’s not the only issue. “Not only is the heat pump target woefully inadequate, there’s also a serious risk that the execution of the grants will lead to low take-up of the incentive. The collapse of the Green Homes Grant shows just how much damage a poorly executed scheme can do. The goal was to fund renovations for 600,000 homes, but by February 2021 just 5,800 installations had been completed. The administration of the new incentive scheme will need to be a LOT better if it’s going to make any kind of a difference.” Eashita Saxena, Sustainability Analyst, houzen

Alongside the grant for heat pumps, further innovation is urgently required. According to the houzen team, the government would need to look at several other innovative solutions to support the installation/replacement of more heating systems. The government is investing in R&D, which is a good start, but again more needs to be done and faster in order to ensure maximum benefit, both to individual homeowners looking to reduce their energy bills and to the planet. Subsidies and other forms of financial support for heat pump manufacturers, alongside an advanced innovation drive to bring costs down is needed as the bare minimum.

This could ensure that heat pumps would be more affordable to homeowners, as well as incentivising manufacturers. At the same time, it could create more job opportunities in the green energy field. Everyone wins. “We also need more focus on a ‘fabric first’ approach. As well as raising awareness among homeowners, we need to focus on locally available resources, using skilled people to help reduce the gap towards Net Zero. At houzen, we understand this and focus on local options to help clients by suggesting the best sustainable solutions they can implement in their houses. We also show how this can affect the values of their houses positively over time.” Eashita Saxena, Sustainability Analyst, houzen

This is where houzen’s Sustainability Index comes into play. The company has analysed data from properties across the UK, examining how they perform against 27 key areas that impact the climate. By blending that data with expert knowledge and the clever use of artificial intelligence, houzen is working with individual homeowners to produce locally focused reports that help them to move towards enhanced sustainability through a series of actionable goals. Thus, while pushing for greater collective change, the company is also doing its bit to save the planet, one home at a time. To find out more, please visit www.houzen.co.uk.

#houses #housing #energy #eco #ecofriendly #homes