Published On: Thu, Oct 27th, 2022

Time for a long lasting insulation plan

With headlines like ‘Insulate homes or energy crisis will get worse, ministers told’ dominating the national media, those working in the home insulation sector should be staring down a pipeline of healthy sales. Coupled with the fact that the UK ranks among the worst in Europe for energy efficiency in homes, there is a desperate need to improve our existing housing stock. UK homes are also the oldest in Europe, with more than 52% of homes built before 1965 and 20% before 1919. Interestingly, in an average UK home with an indoor temperature of 20 ºC and an outside temperate of zero, 3 ºC was lost after 5 hours, this is three times as much as a similar home in Germany. 

The UK Government’s desperate attempt to tackle the current (and future) energy crisis is built around subsidising domestic bills and schemes to create more energy by fracking and the expansion of North Sea fossil fuels. Experts have warned that this will have a severe impact on the UK’s commitment to reducing climate change and do little to help drive down energy costs. Pointing to the example in Germany, experts believe the correct way to tackle the energy crisis is to prevent heat loss. Germany has introduced low-interest loans, grants and tax rebates and has offered free advice to the homeowners looking to make a difference. In the UK we have seen numerous failed attempts by the Government to help facilitate energy saving home improvements – only 10,000 people installed energy saving measures as part of the Green Deal finance scheme. Then we were presented with revisions to building regulations that were designed to improve the energy performance of homes – including ridiculous moves to reduce sizes of windows. 

Availability of cheap finance for energy efficient home improvements can underpin the drive to insulate the UK’s existing housing stock. Mortgage lenders are switching onto this and it was revealing to see that new findings from Halifax have shown that 22% of people making home improvements are going so to improve the thermal performance of their homes. Kim Kinnaird, Halifax Mortgages Director said: “Improving the energy efficiency of your home can help reduce your bills. If you’re embarking on home improvements, it’s worth making sure you’re thinking ‘green’ at the same time. The vast majority of people borrowing more on their mortgage are intending this to go on home improvements.” 

The finance sector is looking closely at the market for green home improvements as part of mortgage products. A market insider told me recently that providers are investigating offering differing rates and terms within a mortgage product to cover energy saving home improvements. A homeowner could borrow 10% more at a reduced interest rate over a longer term to cover home improvements such as new glazing, insulation and heating. This follows more the German model and could make insulation improvements more affordable. 

It’s not just homeowners who are feeling the pinch. Businesses have been subjected to massive energy price hikes. This puts massive pressure on the supply chain as manufacturers struggle to hold prices. This has forced many companies to wisely seek alternative energy supply options. Two companies came to my attention as they made progressive alternative energy solutions. Profine has forged a partnership with the Wirth Group to create a joint energy service provider, while A&B Glass Group have installed more than 700 solar panels to help power its production site. I think we will find more and more heavy consumers of energy following this example as it is unlikely energy costs will fall back to levels we witnessed previously. 

John Cowie