If you are like me the start of UK winter may fill you with slight dread. As I head into my second UK winter this dread is exacerbated by my new, cold apartment which has a heating system (combi-heater) without a timer. It is either on or off, leaving the choice between come home to a cold house or an expensive energy bill!
Retrofit for the future final reports
So as I read the Retrofit for the Future final reports, in my sub-optimally heated home, I come to the realisation that this shouldn’t be the case (particularly when there is some new funding from BEIS available).
Retrofit for the Future was a £17 million programme funded by Innovate UK (then called Technology Strategy Board) from 2009-2014 which enabled a nationwide demonstration of whole-house retrofit solutions in over 100 homes.
Cheaper, warmer and more comfortable
The findings of this roll out were that it is possible to retrofit the UK’s existing housing stock so that:
- They are energy efficient. Retrofitted homes use as little as 30% of the average home’s energy use
- They provide affordable warmth. Retrofit can reduce heating bills by as much as 80%
- They are comfortable to occupy. Almost all residents of a retrofitted home find it more comfortable than a non-retrofitted home
Sounds pretty good right? The final report even steps through the key ingredients needed to make a retrofit successful. Such as engage with residents, have an integrated and whole system approach, collaborate and communicate at all stages of decision making and empower the resident to use the lighting, heating and ventilation controls.
However, three years on we haven’t seen a national wide roll out of retrofit and people are living in inefficient houses that cost a lot to run and aren’t comfortable to live in.
Key ingredients to retrofit success
There are a number of barriers to the update of retrofit on a large scale. For us renters there is a split incentive between the land lord and tenant in terms of where the costs and benefits sit.
There is a lack of skills and knowledge within industry on how to retrofit at scale. Given the benefits of an integrated approach to retrofit, we will need to see more industry players working together to deliver quality retrofits.
Massive potential to create a UK retrofit market
The funding models are under developed, banks don’t properly understand the value of retrofit for their customers (less money spent on energy means more money for repayments), this could be up to 70% less energy costs than the national average.
There is massive potential in the UK to create a retrofit market within the construction sector which has a £370 billion turnover
The construction sector in the UK has a turnover of £370 billion, there is massive potential to create a retrofit market within the sector, which could create jobs and increase the efficiency of our housing stock.
At a UK level, retrofit has the potential to save households £8.61 billion in energy bills if all homes were improved to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating C.
How do we make retrofit more affordable?
So how do we make retro fit more affordable and attractive? If we could reduce the costs of thermal efficiency and better provide low carbon heat technology existing buildings that would be a good start.
The good news is there is that following the launch of the Clean Growth Strategy, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has now opened two new competitions for funding for innovation in energy efficiency and heating technologies.
Two new competitions are now open
Both competitions have £10 million available to fund projects of up to 3 years and between £200,000 and £2 million. So if you can drive down the costs of improving the thermal efficiency of existing buildings; or have a better ways of providing low carbon heat in existing buildings I encourage you to apply to these new competitions.
You could help contribute to making the UK building stock more efficient which may reduce my sense of dread next winter!
Festive future funding 12th December deadline
You must register for the thermal efficiency fund by 12 December 2017. Applications for both funds should be submitted by 2 January 2018. You can find further details on how to apply here or contact BuiltEnvironmentInnovation@beis.gov.uk
In case you missed it you can find the Retrofit for the Future reports: https://retrofit.innovateuk.org/
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