Builders Say Britain Needs More Energy Efficient Homes



The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) thinks making Britain’s homes more energy efficient should be supported with measures included in the UK’s upcoming budget. By adopting such measures, the British government would boost the construction industry and help householders deal with the issue of rising fuel bills. In a letter addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who is expected to deliver his Budget on March 20th, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, warns that over nine million British households might be in fuel poverty by 2016 some nine million British households could be in fuel poverty.

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 Photo by Kay Williams/ Flickr

‘We need action now to help get Britain building towards growth, and independent economists estimate that diverting funds into a massive public sector programme to improve the energy efficiency of Britain’s existing 26 million homes would boost GDP by 0.2%, create 130,000 jobs and help the government meet its own targets for cutting carbon emissions,’ the letter says. ‘We also want ministers to rethink the unrealistic timeline for zero carbon homes, which was set back in 2006 before the economic slump. Our own survey of smaller housing developers found that the proposals to change Part L of the Building Regulations in October this year could add more than £3,500 to the cost of building a new house. This will discourage even more developers from building new homes, further exacerbating the desperate housing shortage and locking low and middle income buyers out of the market.’

The FMB also requested a VAT cut from 20% to 5% for home renovation and repairs, as British houses are old and deteriorating due to the fact that most homeowners cannot afford the repair costs.

‘Families are trapped in a vicious cycle, in which they can’t afford to move and planning red tape makes it harder to alter their homes to meet changing need. Cutting VAT on renovation and repair would give a shot in the arm to beleaguered builders, create jobs and encourage householders to make their homes more comfortable, affordable and energy efficient,’ the letter concludes.

FMB’s take on what measures the government should take was the result of new research that shows buying a new home could save a household almost £300 on energy costs. The report published by house builder Miller Homes compared newly built houses according to those built in the Victorian era and those dating back to the 1960s in what build materials of the time, and typical energy usages including lighting, cooking and heating are concerned. The conclusion was that energy savings for the newly built apartments amounted to almost £3,000 on the 1900s home and just over £2,000 compared to the 1960s property.

‘I would also urge home owners in older style properties to ensure their home is as efficient as it could be wherever possible by replacing any draughty windows, installing loft and cavity wall insulation and even making sure radiators have thermostatic valves on them,’ said Chris Endsor, chief executive of Miller Homes. ‘But for those in the market to move, the efficiency figures of new homes speak for themselves,’ he added.