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Government policy on improving the energy efficiency of homes

The Government published the Heat and Buildings Strategy and the Net Zero Strategy in October 2021. These set out the Government’s plans to improve the energy efficiency of homes.  

Several of the plans are based on improving the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of buildings. EPCs rate how energy efficient a building is, with ratings from band A (very efficient) to band G (inefficient). They also estimate how costly it will be to heat and light the property, and what the greenhouse gas emissions of the property are likely to be.

The plans include:

  • Delivering the Future Homes Standard to ensure that new-build homes in England are “ready for net zero” from 2025.
  • Upgrading fuel poor homes in England to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C “where reasonably practicable”. (
  • Consulting on phasing in higher minimum performance standards to ensure all homes meet EPC Band C by 2035, “where cost-effective, practical and affordable”
  • Setting long-term regulatory standards to upgrade privately rented homes to EPC band C by 2028.
  • Considering setting a long-term regulatory standard to improve social housing to EPC band C, subject to consultation.
  • Funding energy efficiency measures and low carbon heating systems in existing homes.

The Government published the British Energy Security Strategy in April 2022. This proposed additional support to improve the energy efficiency of homes, including:

  • Removing VAT on installations of energy saving materials (such as insulation and low carbon heating) for the next five years.
  • Supporting retail lenders to offer consumers low-cost finance for energy efficiency measures.
  • Launching an energy advice service to help consumers improve the energy performance of their homes.
  • Reviewing the practical planning barriers households can face when installing energy efficiency measures, including in conservation areas and listed buildings by the end of 2022.

The Heat and Buildings Strategy and the British Energy Security Strategy were credited for setting high ambitions. However, they were criticised for a perceived “limited focus” on energy efficiency measures. In its annual Progress Report to Parliament (PDF), published 29 June 2022, the Committee Change Committee (CCC) said “Sharply rising fuel costs should have given added impetus to improving energy efficiency, yet the necessary programmes are not in place.”

Energy efficiency in the north of England

Energy efficiency can be measured through the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) which assigns one of seven bands to a dwelling from A (most energy efficient) to G (least energy efficient).

In 2019, Yorkshire and the Humber had the lowest proportion of any English region of dwellings in the top three bands (A-C). The North East had among the highest share in these three bands and the smallest proportion in the two lowest bands (F and G).


Source: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. (2022). English Housing Survey: Fuel Poverty Dataset, 2019. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 8891, DOI: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-8891-1

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme started in 2013 and requires energy suppliers to fund heating and insulation measures in homes. It is funded through a levy on energy bills. Much of the support has been focussed on low income, vulnerable and fuel poor households. Up to March 2022, the three regions in northern England had received more installations under ECO than any other regions or nations in Great Britain.


Source: BEIS, Household Energy Efficiency Statistics, headline release June 2022

 The Levelling Up White Paper (2 February 2022) includes plans to improve energy efficiency by providing funding for “the worst performing homes and those least able to pay”. It also noted the economic opportunities of energy efficiency, as upgrading homes and workplaces could support over 240,000 low carbon jobs by 2035.

In March 2022, the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) published analysis showing that households in fuel poverty are disproportionately found in the north of England (one million homes) and the East Midlands. The ECIU also found these regions have the highest proportion of homes below the Government’s EPC target.

Advice for constituents on energy efficiency

The Library has published a series of briefings to help to advise constituents on energy efficiency. These include:

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