The majority of UK government support for home energy efficiency is directed at home owners, but is badly administered. In addition, it doesn’t go the whole way to fixing the problem of energy hungry residences. 

Homeowners a Majority in England 

Did you know that in England, a majority of households are owner-occupied? The Office of National Statistics’ latest data shows that 15.6 million households are either owned outright (8.8 million) or owned with a loan (6.8m). By comparison, 9m are renters – private rented (4.8m) or social housing (4.2m). 

The brave members of pressure group Insulate Britain have been trying to force the issue of insulation to combat climate change. Given that 19% of the UK’s carbon emissions  are housing related (narrowly second after transport), they have a point. 

With 50% more households are owned outright than rented, the government is genuinely getting off its butt and doing something… somewhat. 

Energy Efficient Homes in Numbers

In November 2022, ahead of a debate on the matter in the House of Lords, the House of Lords Library published a report that suggested:

    • 66% of UK social housing is energy efficiency rated A-C
  • Just 42% of owner occupied or privately rented housing is rated in those upper three bands

It also called for retrofitting all homes to meet the needs of the changing climate and that all new homes should be built to reduce energy costs. 

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation published a report in 2018 suggesting that half of households in poverty in the UK are homeowners. Given this is the case, there’s a wide open door for the government to tackle climate change by supporting homeowners. 

LAD2 – Right Direction, Poorly Sold

Ever seen an advert pushed through your letterbox offering free insulation and solar? Seems to be too good to be true? That may be the problem that the government faces in rolling out the Green Homes Local Authority Delivery scheme 2 (LAD 2).

Earlier this year, the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Combined Authority, responsible for more than a fifth of the £500m LAD2 scheme, had to hand back over 50% of the money to central government having not spent it. 

If this has been repeated across the UK, you can imagine this is a bit of a damp squib! One wonders, just how much of the LAD2 grant money went back when more than 10% was sent back by just one of the five administering authorities?

A Cold, Weak HUG From Uncle Rishi…

The forthcoming central government Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) in is to kick in in 2023.

Looking at the forthcoming eligibility criteria for the new HUG scheme, private and social landlords will not likely subscribe – a cold, weak HUG from ‘Uncle Rishi’ Sunak? 

The criteria are very narrow as is, with only homes that are not attached to the national gas grid and being rated between D and G on the energy efficiency scale being eligible. 

Once more, while homeowners will pay £0 for the upgrades, private landlords will have to pay more than 33% and social landlords, more than 50%. What does a private landlord get from improving the energy efficiency of a place they rent out? I can’t see this being widely picked up. 

Personal Experience – LAD2 Farce

I live in a house that I’m trying to get to zero carbon, and have been confronted by the boggling rules related to energy efficiency. 

I actually bit the bullet and got free cavity wall and roof insulation in 2021. If it is free, and as long as you don’t jump through too many hoops, it’s not going to be too onerous is it? Yes, the guy I dealt with was a bit of a wide boy but he came good and I got a good £5k of work done. 

I saw another advert and applied earlier in 2022. It was clear that my house was woefully energy inefficient still so needed new windows. Speaking to experts over the matter about windows and doors, even if they are old double glazing, are still dreadful energy sinks. Even with insulation, my weekly energy bill goes up from around £10 a week in summer to £114 on a cold week in winter.

The guy came and said he was offering

    • Free insulation
    • Solar panels
    • And windows, but only if the house was single-glazed.


I’ve ended up using £12,000 of family money to replace my windows and doors to help stop my weekly energy bill from topping £100. Not everyone has that sort of cash floating around given that a majority of homeowners are in poverty. 

Stop the Hot Air and Get Doing Something!

Looking at the matter in depth, we can see that energy efficiency needs to be urgently tackled in housing here in the UK. It also seems that while there are grants out there they are so badly administered and sold to the general public that they are dreadfully undersubscribed. The criteria are too tight for many of the problems householders face, and in one word could be described as a farce. 

We need the government to stop talking big and start acting big. Here’s a final thought: The LAD2 scheme was worth £500m yet the government has announced plans to spend £2 billion on new fighter jets. Perhaps we could focus on helping people in this country and not harming others in other countries with that money instead? I’m sure an old lady freezing and starving to death in her damp home would prefer the former….

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Richard is a West Dorset based commercial content marketer, community activist and all round change seeker.