Energy UK said it has long called for energy efficiency to be a national infrastructure priority and welcomed the report.
Chief Executive Lawrence Slade added: “With the net zero target in place, there is an even greater imperative to get serious about making all our homes and businesses energy efficient and doing so would be a clear win-win – significantly cutting both emissions and reducing consumers’ bills.
“However, as the Committee on Climate Change recognised, we know installations of energy efficiency measures are actually falling and currently the only source of funding for these in England is the Energy Company Obligation, which in itself is nowhere near enough and unsuitable for an expanded programme of measures. Therefore government should follow the example of Scotland and Wales and provide centrally funded support for households most in need.
“We must also radically improve the efficiency standards of new homes and we would like to see government take a much stronger line on building regulations and standards, including to make it a requirement that homes being sold or rented meet EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) Band C.”
“Ready to take on a bigger role on energy efficiency”
The Energy Networks Association welcomed the recommendations and said it is ready to take on a bigger role on energy efficiency if needed
Chief Executive, David Smith added: “Successful energy efficiency measures are not only required to meet our net zero target and cost-effectively decarbonise heat in homes and commercial buildings but to deliver wider benefits to low income, fuel poor and vulnerable customers. Such energy efficiency measures could save up to £4.3 billion alone in electricity network investment.
“Our energy network companies are at the heart of this transformation of our energy system and stand ready to take on a bigger role on energy efficiency if required. They continue to work closely with government, local authorities and the wider industry on key issues including energy efficiency.”
“More ambitious policies needed”
The CBI agrees more ambitious policies are needed to help deliver energy efficiency improvements across the UK.
Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said: “Homes, offices and buildings are the country’s largest source of carbon emissions. A more ambitious set of policies to deliver the energy efficiency improvements, such as better efficiency ratings, is needed.
“A cross-departmental approach, working jointly with business, will improve the efficiency of our homes and buildings and develop the skills and funding needed to make them fit for the future.”
“Incentives needed urgently”
The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) added it has been calling on the government to urgently introduce incentives to drive investment by households and businesses in energy efficiency, along with funding for those who can’t afford to pay.
Deputy Director Dr Joanne Wade said: “These incentives are critical to ensuring that energy efficiency can deliver a net zero carbon future.
“The investment in energy efficiency that follows will not only help to ensure that we meet our carbon targets, it will also drive improvements in health and wellbeing and in business productivity. Making all our buildings fit for the future is an aim that industry stands ready to deliver, when the right policy framework is in place. We must get moving on a comprehensive national energy efficiency plan.”
“Greater challenge is dealing with existing residential stock”
Town planning consultancy WYG believes the greater challenge is dealing with the existing residual stock and decarbonising heating
Director Adrian French added: “Improving energy efficiency in new builds is essential, however the greater challenge is dealing with the existing residual stock, alongside the significant work which will be required to decarbonise the heating of new and existing homes. This is a major challenge alongside the need to switch to low carbon electricity generation and meet the projected increased demand for power to electrify the transport system.
“National Grid projected this week that electricity demand is expected to almost double by 2050. The increased demand for electricity requires delivery of significant new low carbon generation and this needs an urgent and fresh look at the planning and regulatory restrictions that have been holding back the onshore wind and solar sectors.”