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Obstacles prevent homes from turning green, consumer organizations warn

A group of consumer and industry groups have warned in an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson that it is currently too complicated and risky for homeowners to adapt their homes for a low-carbon future.

A key part of the UK’s efforts to achieve carbon neutral emissions by 2050 will consist of adapting its 29 million homes to be more energy efficient and using alternatives to natural gas for heating, such as electricity and green energy. hydrogen.

Citizens Advice, Which?, Aldersgate Group and the Federation of Master Builders are urging the government to work with them to address the hurdles consumers currently face and learn from past lessons, lest efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

They warn that installing low-carbon heating, upgrading insulation or installing smart home technologies such as smart meters can be time-consuming, stressful and confusing. Researching and choosing the right product, finding a reputable installer and completing the job “requires enormous amounts of knowledge, time and effort,” they say. The coalition warns that the process could be plagued by issues such as bad installations, technologies that don’t work as expected, and trouble fixing things if they don’t work properly.

“Our evidence is clear. Right now, making green changes to homes is too confusing and too often things go wrong for those trying to do the right thing,” said Clare Moriarty, CEO of Citizens Advice. “The public is behind the net-zero transition, but they need the right information and tools, especially when it comes to customizing their home. By doing things right now, government can give people the confidence to make changes and do their part to reach net zero.”

The group says the government should avoid repeating the mistakes of past energy efficiency programs that left homeowners struggling with damp and mold due to poorly installed insulation and other long-term problems that were expensive, disruptive and stressful to fix. This is a matter of public trust, they say.

Consumer protection is not ready for the pace and scale of work that needs to be done to improve millions of homes, they add.

The letter calls for households to be provided with accessible and objective information to help them make the best choices, to update consumer protections to make them fit for purpose and to provide financial support to make changes to homes.

Rocio Concha of Which?, said: “Decarbonising millions of homes in the UK is an essential but complex part of the government’s net-zero strategy, and its success will depend on ensuring consumers are supported in the transition to low-carbon heating systems, which will involve profound changes in their homes.”

“The level of support consumers need should not be underestimated, and we urge the government to ensure that its net-zero policy includes provisions to help consumers navigate the heating market, by accessing the right information, strong consumer protection and, if necessary, financial support.”

Nick Molho, director of the Aldersgate Group, added: “Government has an important opportunity with the upcoming Net Zero strategy to set a clear course through predictable regulatory targets, easily accessible policy incentives and vastly improved information and local support measures. It is vital that energy efficiency and low carbon heat schemes are placed in the long term so that the industry can invest, train its workforce and increase consumer confidence.”

The letter was published as a study by the National Housing Federation which estimates that England’s 25 million homes alone produce 58.5 million tons of CO2 each year, more than England’s 27 million cars emitting 56 million tons annually. It identifies poor insulation and gas central heating as responsible for high domestic emissions.

The National Housing Federation is urging the government to urgently spend £3.8bn on adapting social housing in the upcoming spending review.

The CEO, Kate Henderson, said: “If we don’t make serious progress in decarbonising and modernizing our homes, we won’t meet the government’s goal of being zero by 2050. It’s critical that we act now .”