Not really going to work

The UK\’s domestic properties need to be renovated to a high energy efficiency standard at a rate of 700,000 a year in order to have renovated them all by the year 2050. We need to do this because there are 28 million homes in the UK which are responsible for 27% of our greenhouse gas emissions, most of them will still be standing by then, and they need to be treated to make a contribution to meeting our national targets of reducing these emissions by 80% by 2050.

OK, so how much per house?

Neil gave some costs: they are allocating a budget of £120,000 per property for a sustainable renovation.

Err, what?

28,000,000 houses times £120,000, if I\’ve got my zeros right that\’s £3,360,000,000,000.

Erm, £3.3 trillion? Over two year\’s GDP just to spend on the housing stock? £84 billion a year over 40 years?

5% to 6% of GDP each and every year?

This just isn\’t going to work, is it? Those costs are so much vastly higher than whatever the damages from climate change might be that we\’d be better off just putting up with it.

I do hope I have got my zeros wrong there. Otherwise we\’ve serious evidence that people haven\’t been reading their Stern Review. You know, the one that said it will costs us 1-2% of GDP each year in total to solve climate change? Rather than 6% just to retrofit housing?

12 thoughts on “Not really going to work”

  1. £120,000 per house? Are they gold plating them? Or using platinum wool as cavity wall insulation?

    Far, far too much Mann-Made Warble Gloaming Cool Aid has been consumed before inventing these numbers I think.

  2. I think that’s just an initial cost to try to find out what works and what doesn’t – the figure is apparently 40,000 in Germany. This is still a lot but would need to be put into context of reduction in damage from climate change, if any, and of course more pertinently an 80% reduction in the energy bill.

  3. But it’s not actually the “house” is it ? It’s the activities of the people living in it. What is actually causing the emissions ? They’re not actually coming from the house but from the power station several miles away that provides the energy. Easy solution then, upgrade to 100% nuclear, can be done in 40 years and would cost a lot less.

  4. I imagine that would be considerably more per year than the average household energy bill?

  5. I’ve just put my house on the market and had one of those compulsory EU energy surveys. One recommendation is that £34 per year could be saved by increasing the loft insulation to 270mm. A quick calculation gives me a 5-6 year payback if I do it myself.

    The only problem is that when it last snowed the snow on my roof thawed at about the same rate as the snow in my garden, which I take to mean that the existing insulation isn’t far off being inadequate. When I pointed this out it was met with a grudging – I suppose so.

    Perhaps all those expensive upgrades aren’t really needed?

  6. To be fair it is just a test project but at those kinds of prices you might as well replace rather than renovate.

  7. Perhaps they need to consult the Stern Report. It might be biased, but did put a cost of CO2 at £80 per tonne. It think that £120,000 per house might exceed that by a tad.

  8. The chap suggesting this is important to stop climate change is a muppet. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a stupid idea.

    Since the median UK household spends 4% of its income on domestic energy (which in the UK is predominately heating), the suggestion that it might be a good idea to cut that amount substantially through one-off capital investment at roughly the same order of magnitude is not an insane one. Particularly as the cost of domestic energy is only going to rise as we run out of North Sea gas.

    Gareth: major housing renovation generally costs more than replacement. However, because people in the UK generally like the aesthetics of Victorian and pre-war homes more than those of ones made from cheaper, modern materials, we (in the sense both of ‘most home-owners’ and in the sense of ‘many planning authorities’) generally opt to pay the extra.

  9. At £120,000 per house, I doubt if there are more than a small number of mansions that couldn’t be knocked down and completely rebuilt for half that.

  10. However, because people in the UK generally like the aesthetics of Victorian and pre-war homes more than those of ones made from cheaper, modern materials…

    Aesthetics such as level floors and plumb walls…

  11. Say what now? As someone who (pre-Oz-emigration this Feb) lived in eight Victorian or older buildings since 1994, my current 1980s flat is the first one in 16 years to have level floors and plumb walls. Breeze blocks, poured concrete and modern surveyors’ instruments do help…

    On the other hand, the building looks hideous from the outside and the party walls are paper-thin – that was more the kind of thing I was thinking of.

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