Renewable energy for homes
Upgrading UK homes energy to clean sources is crucial if we’re going to meet our net zero targets. However, the process of upgrading an existing structure will depend on various factors such as a home’s existing heating system and the property type and location. Put simply, there is not a ‘one size fits’ all approach to making our homes more energy efficient.
Renewable sources like heat pumps and solar panels are especially important for homes that have limited options when it comes to traditional energy. When someone is on the gas grid, it’s hard to realise how difficult it is to heat a home that’s off it. Installing one of these renewable energy sources will be lifechanging to families who have been living with ineffective energy systems. By changing to, say, an air source heat pump, you're improving that person's life; not only their heating.
But, as ever, there are some challenges that we need to overcome in order to kit out the UK’s homes with the appropriate energy source. For example, not every home will be suitable for a heat pump. We need to make sure there’s adequate information for homeowners and housebuilders, so that they can make informed decisions that will work best for their properties.
Addressing the renewable sector skills shortage
Next, we need to ensure that we have people with the right skill set who can build, install and maintain these energy sources, so that homeowners can rely on their heating.
Right now the UK has a significant shortage of people with the skills and experience needed to deliver the transition to low carbon homes. According to our research4, just one in five (22%) homeowners who have looked into making their homes greener could find tradespeople with the right skills.
I’ve personally faced issues as I go about installing a heat pump. We’ve had different views from engineers on where best to locate it, and are on a long waiting list - as well as living without hot water since March! By the time you read this it should be installed - I promise to report back. But we simply can’t have these things happening to people, or they won’t trust the technology and will go back to their original, more polluting energy source.
A recent report by City & Guilds found that less than 46% of energy sector workers felt that they personally had the skills required to support a zero-carbon energy system by 2035. Creating skilled jobs in green technologies is a key step to pave the way for greener homes, and it’s clear that significant investment needs to be made in this area if we’re to take the decarbonisation of the UK’s homes seriously. That’s why we’re asking the UK government to implement changes to the apprenticeship levy, to enable businesses to spend more funds on training and re-skilling.