Great home?

B9E6F155-D00C-4F08-A476-F5672F712C3CWanstead Climate Action information stall

Wanstead Climate Action is spreading the word about The Great Homes Upgrade campaign, which can rapidly cut bills and emissions from home heating, says Kathy Taylor

It’s a no-brainer. As Professor Katharine Hayhoe says in her book about climate change: “The cheapest form of energy is the energy that you don’t use.” Why not cut bills, reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas, help those most at risk of fuel poverty and save the planet by reducing carbon emissions, all at the same time? It could be a win-win. 

Why then does the government seem so reluctant to invest substantially in insulating Britain’s energy-leaky homes? An investment of £11.7bn, the same amount that it is costing to refurbish Parliament, could upgrade over four million homes to higher energy standards. It would also kick-start an industry that has faltered, owing to short-term grant schemes that have come and then been withdrawn before their time is up, owing to poor management. No industry can flourish in this uncertain environment. 

At the time of writing, the UK government has committed £37bn to help households with energy bills, but there has been nothing to upgrade energy efficiency. As homes account for 20% of UK carbon emissions, we will not get to net zero without a mass insulation strategy. The best way of doing this would be a concerted effort to upgrade homes street by street, starting with retrofits to social housing. 

Wanstead Climate Action has joined forces with the New Economics Foundation campaign ‘The Great Homes Upgrade’, Fuel Poverty Action and many other organisations to call on the government to put this right. And following a successful stall at the South Woodford Jubilee Market in June and several in Wanstead High Street over the summer, we will be hosting another information stall at the Wanstead Festival on 18 September, so look out for us there.

Reducing your heating bill now is also probably one of the most effective actions for a climate-safe future. Major works can daunt even committed people and there is a lack of practical support and information for local residents to reduce their emissions and bills long term. Wanstead Climate Action aren’t experts in energy efficiency, but we’ve seen what can be achieved, even in Victorian terraces, and have started a resource list on our website, including grant information (such as the Redbridge Go Green grant) and advice. You can also use our website to find example letters to send to your local MP.

For those who can fund the work themselves, there is also a list of local insulation contractors. This may be for internal or external solid wall insulation, loft improvements, underfloor work and so on, with a wide range of costs and payback periods. If all of it seems overwhelming, try our advice and planning section.

For more information and advice, visit wansteadclimateaction.com