The new Green Homes Grant promises to help the UK move towards its net zero carbon goal, while improving the energy efficiency and thermal comfort of homes. Here we explain how it could help people’s comfort and wellbeing.
On 28 August 2020, the UK Government launched the Green Homes Grant, a scheme where homeowners and landlords can get funding to help pay for the cost of energy saving measures.
Through the initiative, which was created to support the Government’s aim of being net zero carbon emissions by 2050, users can access personalised energy plans, receive funding of up to £10,000 to cover the cost of the energy saving measures, and find details of local reputable tradespeople to complete the work.
The grant will cover a range of home improvements, including insulation of walls, floors and roofs, the replacement of single glazing with double or triple glazing, and low-carbon heating.
It’s hoped that as well as being a step towards the net zero carbon goal, it will make a difference to 600,000 homes and create 100,000 skilled jobs.
What does the Green Homes Grant cover?
Most homeowners will be able to access a voucher for around two-thirds of their energy-efficient home improvements, up to a maximum of £5,000 per household. However, low-income households – i.e. households receiving at least one income-based or disability benefits – might be able to access £10,000 of funding and not pay anything towards the improvement costs.
In order to access the finance, homeowners or landlords need to install at least one of the ‘primary’ improvements, which include low-carbon heating (e.g. solar thermal systems, air source or ground source heat pumps), or insulation (e.g. underfloor, loft, roof, solid wall or cavity wall).
Providing at least insulation or low-carbon heating is installed, homeowners and landlords can then get funding to go towards new glazing (e.g. double or triple glazing), energy-efficient doors, draught proofing, or heating controls.
You can discover the Saint-Gobain products and solutions that are eligible under the scheme here.
Green Homes Grant: Good news for thermal comfort
According to a recent BBC report, almost two thirds of UK homes fall below grade C (on a scale of A to G) of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). This equates to around 12 million properties.
What’s more, with EPCs arguably overestimating building performance, the report suggests an inordinate proportion of the British population is living in conditions that do not provide thermal comfort. On top of this, statistics from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy show there are approximately 2.4 million households in fuel poverty in England.
And while cold homes and fuel poverty are bad news at the best of times, during the current Covid-19 pandemic, there is particular concern around the impact poor quality housing will have.
Adam Scorer, chief executive of fuel poverty charity National Energy Action, said: “Every year around 10,000 people die directly as a result of a cold home. Many thousands more who cannot afford to keep their homes warm are hospitalised, suffer from a severe respiratory condition or just shiver in damp, cold homes. The impact of Covid-19 is truly horrific. But we have been fortunate that, so far, the virus has struck hard during warmer weather. The possible coincidence of a further wave in a cold winter should make us think long and hard about the steps we need to take to avoid the deadly collision between Covid-19 and fuel poverty related mortality.”
Although the statistics are worrying, the launch of the Green Homes Grant could be the ideal opportunity to turn cold, draughty and inefficient properties into better places to live.
Why thermal comfort is important
Thermal comfort isn’t just about feeling warm and cosy on a winter’s evening. Living in the perfect temperature can help us avoid several physical and mental wellbeing problems too.
When it’s cold, many illnesses and conditions can be triggered or made worse. Colds, flu, chest infections, asthma, pneumonia and heart attacks can all be potential problems when the temperature drops. Maintaining the right, comfortable temperature in the home can also help us go about our day-to-day activities more comfortably and avoid mental health issues such as low moods and depression.
By keeping our homes at a comfortable temperature, we can help maintain our comfort and wellbeing, reduce the number of days missed at school or work, improve our life chances, and reduce the strain on public services such as the NHS.
Achieving thermal comfort with the Green Homes Grant
Although the Green Homes Grant will provide funding for retrofit measures such as improving glazing and insulation, there are many principles of the Multi Comfort approach that can be applied when designing and installing these enhancements.
For example, achieving the right balance between insulation, solar gain, thermal inertia, airtightness and ventilation is key in creating warm homes that are energy efficient as well as great places to live.
Find out more about how to keep homes warm this winter here.