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Still the Cold Man of Europe – briefing

This briefing compares the state of the UK housing stock and fuel poverty levels with 15 other European countries. It concludes that no other country of the 16 assessed performed as poorly overall as the UK across the range of indicators. The UK has among the highest rates of fuel poverty and one of the most energy inefficient housing stocks in Europe.

  • Despite the fact that it has amongst the lowest energy prices, the UK ranks very poorly in terms of the affordability of space heating and fuel poverty, ranking 14th out of 16 on both indicators.
  • It is the poor state of our housing stock that is the main cause of these problems. In terms of households reporting that their home is in a poor state of repair, the UK ranks 12th out of 16.
  • In terms of energy efficiency, out of 11 countries for which data is available, the UK’s walls are ranked 7th, roofs are ranked 8th, floors are ranked 10th and windows are ranked 11th.

The key results are shown in the table below. The latest official European data are used for this briefing, and the UK’s performance compared to our previous assessment two years ago.
Added to this year’s update is an analysis of the homes that seem to be dragging the UK’s rankings down. There are 26 million households in the UK and 21 million with a poor level of energy efficiency (Band D, E, F and G on an Energy Performance Certificate). The energy efficiency of all these homes has to be raised. The average energy efficiency of a UK home is Band D which is not high enough to protect households from fuel poverty.

Indicator 2011 (previous assessment) 2013 (this briefing)
Affordability of space heating 14/15 16/16
Arrears on utility bills in the last 12 months 9/16 14/16
Level of fuel poverty 13/16 14/16
Homes in poor state of repair 12/16 12/16
Thermal performance of…
Walls 6/8 7/11
Roof n/a 8/11
Floor n/a 10/11
Windows n/a 11/11

The least energy efficient homes in England

In this report we use the latest English Housing Survey to analyse those homes in England that are least energy efficient, with a worse than average energy rating (worse than D on the A to G scale). In England, approximately one third of homes – 6.6 million – are rated E, F or G.

The average required energy expenditure across the housing stock is £1,210. In E-rated homes, it is £1,640, in F-rated homes, it is £2,140, and in G-rated homes, it is £2,670, over twice the national average. Using Energy Performance Certificate data for England up to October 2012, the English constituencies with the highest proportions of E, F and G-rated properties are shown below. A full list of English constituencies and how they perform is available in the report.

Parliamentary constituency Share of home rated E, F or G MP Party
St Ives 50.4% Derek Thomas Conservative
Southend West 47.6% David Amess Conservative
Derbyshire Dales 44.8% Patrick McLoughlin Conservative
Ludlow 42.9% Philip Dunne Conservative
West Worcestershire 42.7% Harriett Baldwin Conservative
North Cornwall 42.3% Scott Mann Conservative
Birmingham, Hall Green 42.2% Roger Godsiff Labour
Croydon South 42.1% Chris Philp Conservative
Penrith and The Border 41.9% Rory Stewart Conservative
Southport 41.8% John Pugh Liberal Democrats

Our housing is infrastructure and the UK’s is in a very poor condition, resulting in high levels of fuel poverty and unaffordable energy bills. The solution to this crisis is for the UK Government to designate home energy efficiency as an infrastructure priority and use infrastructure funds to deliver the stable, long-term investment needed to implement a locally-led infrastructure programme to upgrade all UK homes up to Band C on an Energy Performance Certificate.

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