New analysis from E3G calculates that delivering proposed minimum energy efficiency standards could save the UK economy £1.75bn and reduce rates of fuel poverty
The government has been urged to deliver on its long-standing proposals to strengthen energy efficiency standards for rented properties, after a new analysis revealed the rules could save tenants £570 a year.
Think tank E3G published new calculations this weekend detailing how the UK economy could save £1.75bn a year if the government moved forward with plans to require landlords to ensure all rented properties achieve Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C or above for new tenancies from 2025 and for all existing tenancies from 2028.
The report - titled Cutting Energy Bills and Raising Standards for Private Renters - stressed that the standards would also help the government meet its carbon targets and its fuel poverty goals.
Currently over a quarter of renters live in fuel poverty, more than in any other housing type, while two-thirds of privately rented homes do not meet the government's proposed target energy efficiency level and almost a million rented properties would not meet the legal definition of a "decent home".
The government first proposed new energy efficiency standards for landlords in a consultation launched in 2020, but two years on from the completion of the consultation the government is yet to formally respond.
The delay last week prompted the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) to call on the government to push back the 2025 deadline for improving the efficiency of rental properties, arguing Ministers had left it so long to finalise the rules that the original timeline was "dead in the water".
"In the interests of certainty, the government needs to admit what we all know: namely that it has no hope of meeting its proposed energy targets for the rental market," NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle said in a statement. "We all want to see properties as energy efficient as possible. However, the government's delay in responding to its consultation on energy standards in the private rented sector means its plans are dead in the water."
The group also argued the government needed to clarify how it intended to ensure landlords will be able to deliver efficiency upgrades that in some cases could cost tens of thousands of pounds.
But E3G and a coalition of environmental and fuel poverty groups said the government should finalise the rules as originally planned, while also introducing fiscal incentives to help landlords cover the cost of energy efficiency upgrades.
"The poor state of many rented homes is a growing national scandal," said Colm Britchfield, policy advisor at E3G. "Tenants are facing sky-high bills in part because so much energy is wasted in inefficient homes. The government has an oven-ready set of regulations to fix this - now they need to put them into law."
Emma Harvey-Smith, director at the Green Finance Institute, said the proposed new rules could deliver multiple economic benefits. "Decarbonising homes in the private rented sector offers an opportunity to address the cost-of-living, energy, and climate crises in the UK," she said. "Introducing revised minimum energy efficiency standards and fiscal incentives to improve private-rented homes will support those in fuel poverty, while also providing certainty to landlords, retrofit contractors and financial institutions on the timescales and demand for energy efficiency improvements."
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has confirmed it plans to publish its consultation response in due course, but has not provide a specific timetable.
"We are investing over £6.6bn to help decarbonise homes and buildings, and to ensure all homes meet EPC band C by 2035," BEIS said in its statement released last week in response to the NRLA's criticism. "The Energy Company Obligation runs from 2022 to 2026 and will help hundreds of thousands of families with energy-saving measures such as insulation, with average energy bill savings of around £300 a year. Installations are now increasing, and we have announced a further £1bn extension of the scheme to start in Spring 2023."
* This article was originally published here