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Home Insulation: How Government Laws can Help Homeowners

The UK’s unique economic situation has hit households hard from a number of angles. Wholesale prices have risen due to ongoing trade barriers with the EU post-Brexit, while Russia-instigated instability in Ukraine has contributed heavily to rises in the price of domestic energy bills.

Indeed, the latter issue has been one of increasing import in the UK, as a cold winter caused many to make difficult decisions about their energy usage – and as high prices continue to necessitate those decisions going into spring. Home insulation is an ancillary concern, with pressure groups like Insulate Britain having called to attention the UK’s problem with energy efficiency mere months before a crisis further defined it. The government have, to some extent, addressed this issue – but have they gone far enough?

Insulation and Energy Efficiency

First, it is important to understand how insulation impacts energy efficiency in the home, and what this means on a national scale. A majority of homes in the UK are heated by gas combi boilers, which themselves heat water supplied to radiators around the home. The thermal energy from these radiators is at risk of transfer out of the home, via a variety of means – including conduction through the walls and radiation upwards and out of the roof.

Insulation is a central part of the equation for mitigating heat transfer out of domestic properties. Whether it’s PIR insulation boards fitted in stud walls and attic spaces or cavity wall insulation pumped into external walls from outside, insulation has an overwhelmingly positive impact on energy efficiency – resulting in boilers using less energy to keep the home at a steady temperature.

Current Government Policy

As recently as last spring, then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a programme in which VAT would be scrapped for energy-efficient measures relating to domestic residences, including insulation, heat pumps and solar panels.

The initiative was designed to incentivise investment in home efficiency measures and to lighten the load on households with regard to energy expenditure in the long term. The exemption also comes alongside a programme of government funding for energy-efficient systems.

Campaigns for Further Action

But energy campaigners have been questioning whether the government has really done enough to curb the impact of higher energy bills on the average household – as well as whether more action is needed on directly improving the insulative qualities of current and future homes.

Many campaigners are calling for a 100% windfall tax on energy companies, following the revelation that energy giant Shell broke its own profit records in the last quarter of the last financial year. The windfall could be used to fund green initiatives across the country, or directly assist those struggling with inefficient homes. The government, though, are reluctant to intervene in such a manner – and, indeed, are set to remove consumer protections from high energy costs in the first half of 2023.

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