The energy-efficient homes helping to tackle climate change in the region

Watch Rob Setchell's report below:

Around two thirds of homes in the Anglia region are failing to meet energy efficiency targets.

The Government wants to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 - but almost a fifth of the country's total emissions are currently generated in domestic housing as we depend on gas for heating and cooking.

The aim is for all our homes to be in the 'C' category for Energy Performance Certificates(EPC) by 2035, but more than a million homes in our region do not yet meet that target.

EPCs are designed to measure the efficiency of a house by looking at how well a property is insulated, glazed, or uses alternative measures to reduce energy use. Homes are given a grade between A and G. The closer to A the more efficient the home, meaning it should have lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

Passivhaus homes are gold standard when it comes to energy efficiency Credit: ITV News Anglia

The government launched a consultation on a new building standard for homes, which it hopes will address some of these issues, but with 90% of the existing housing stock built before 1990, there is a growing need for retrofit measures.

One of those who are pioneering that is Ron Beattie. His firm Beattie Passive, builds Passivhaus homes - they're the gold standard when it comes to energy efficiency.

But they also retro-fit old properties - insulating them in a technique they call the T-Cosy system.

"T-cosy is taking an existing building and wrapping it in an insulated quilt and that's going to reduce the energy requirement by about 70-80%."

Ron Beattie, Beattie Passive
Passivhaus retro-fits old properties Credit: Before (left) After (right)

But retrofit measures can be expensive. It can cost around £65,000 to give your home the T-Cosy treatment.

But Ron insists it's a long term investment that will cut energy bills to as low as £70 a year - he says massive change is needed now if we're going to be carbon neutral by 2050.

"We're in a very deep hole. We've got climate change making a massive difference to us and we've got to change the whole way we build homes. We've got to cut carbon and the emissions and without that, we're going to end up in a lot of trouble. We should be retro-fitting a home every 30 seconds to reach those targets... and we've not started."

Ron Beattie, Beattie Passive

The Government is aiming to bring in greener, higher standards for new builds. They say they're investing £6bn in improving energy efficiency - and exploring ways to halve the cost of retrofitting.

These 'ultra low energy' council houses in Goldsmith Street in Norwich won a national architecture award last year Credit: ITV News Anglia

And some councils are starting to act. The 'ultra low energy' council houses pictured above in Goldsmith Street in Norwich won a national architecture award last year, they meet Passivhaus standards.

South Cambridgeshire District Council is also spending millions retrofitting its council homes, including 90 properties in Willingham.

"The risk is if we don't all do the maximum we can do - our own homes and transport - then our legacy for our children could be as bad as mass extinction. As a council, we have to help people to do the very maximum. Just tinkering around at the edges is not an option any more."

Cllr Bridget Smith, Leader, South Cambridgeshire District Council
The government say they are investing six billion pounds in improving energy efficiency, Credit: ITV News Anglia

But for lots of homeowners, going green is simply too expensive. Jenny Hill of the Committee on Climate Change says there needs to be more incentives to help homeowners:

“It’s crucially important that we have an attractive package for householders, that tie in with 'trigger points'. People are much more likely to consider energy efficiency measures when they move home or do renovations."

Dr Tim Forman, Deputy Director of the ‘Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment’ graduate programmes at the University of Cambridge, said:

"Somewhere between 10 and 20% of people are living in fuel poverty. We know that the consequences for the health of housing occupants are very significant. We need to be thinking about vulnerable people - the elderly and the sick. It's imperative that we get the quality of housing improved quickly and that we reduce energy cost and energy emissions as quick as possible."

But to do that he thinks behavioral change is as important as government programmes.

"The ambition is to have a real long-term stable modification of behaviour. Public service advertising would help, it is probably more effective than spending on hard infrastructure. “The heating of domestic buildings represents the largest opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions in this country. There’s a desperate need to do something, not in 10-15 years, but now.

Dr Tim Forman, Deputy Director of the ‘Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment’ graduate programmes, University of Cambridge