Government proposes higher energy standards for all new homes

All new homes and extensions to existing homes will be required to have low-carbon heating and be zero-carbon ready by 2025.
A white house with its doors and window frames painted green.
New homes will be expected to be zero-carbon ready from 2025 under the new proposals. Credit: Pixabay

The government has set out plans to improve homes’ energy performance by making them subject to new higher energy efficiency standards.

The standards will apply to both new and existing homes, with all new homes required to have low-carbon heating such as heat pumps and be zero-carbon ready by 2025.

New homes will be expected to produce 31% lower carbon emissions compared to current levels starting from this year, and 75-80% lower emissions from 2025.

Existing homes will be subject to higher standards in regards to extensions, as well as a requirement for all replacements, repairs and parts such as new windows and heat pumps to be more energy-efficient.

The new measures will help lower energy consumption and help the UK achieve its 2050 net-zero target, the government said.

The housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “Improving the energy performance of buildings is vital to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and protecting the environment for future generations to come.

“The radical new standards announced today will not only improve energy efficiency of existing homes and other buildings, but will also ensure our new homes are fit for the future, by reducing emissions from new homes by at least 75%.

“This will help deliver greener homes and buildings, as well as reducing energy bills for hard-working families and businesses.”

Developers will have one year to bring new homes in line to the new standards. This transitional arrangement will apply to individual homes, rather than entire developments.

The proposals come as the government published its response to last year’s Future Homes Standard consultation, which sought views on how best to improve new homes’ energy performance.

The government has now published a new Future Building Standards consultation which addresses energy efficiency in existing homes.

The consultation, which will be open for responses until 13 April, sets out energy and ventilation standards for non-domestic buildings and existing homes, and includes proposals to mitigate against overheating in residential buildings.

Heating and powering buildings accounts for 40% of the UK’s total energy usage. Total emissions from homes across the UK have already reduced by around a fifth since 1990.

In 20199 the government introduced a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Tracy Harrison, chief executive of the Northern Housing Consortium, commented: “Net zero is a key priority for our members – the vast majority of the North’s councils have declared climate emergencies, so we welcome this further progress towards making new homes net zero.

“However, we still need a standard for existing homes – 80% of the homes we will have in 2050 have already been built.”

Harrison added that a roadmap for retrofitting existing homes is “not only necessary for decarbonisation but for financial recovery from the COVID crisis too”.

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