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8 Out of Ten Flats: Countdown to new laws on energy efficiency

Joanne Wade, CEO of ACE,  has worked in the energy efficiency sector for over 25 years. Below she discusses what to expect from the new energy efficiency laws. Find out more about ACE here.

Flats account for about a fifth of homes in England.

But did you know – flats are much less likely to be properly insulated than houses.  For example, one in eight top floor flats have no insulation at all, a far higher rate than in houses.8 Out Of 10 Flats

Older flats, especially where these have been created from converted houses, are among the worst when it comes to energy efficiency.

Flat owners who have expressed a preference would dearly love to install insulation but as the laws stand, there are often too many obstacles in the way.

A new campaign is aiming to change the laws to make it easier for both freeholders and leaseholders to install new energy efficiency measures, whether to a block as a whole or inside individual flats.

The result is a set of statistics that make for very poor reading:

  • 26% of flats in converted houses have a serious health and safety issues
  • 11% of tenants in converted flats are at ’serious excess cold risk’
  • 5% of pre-1980s flat have no double glazing
  • 50% of these older flats have uninsulated cavity walls

A panel of lawyers, academics, local authorities and energy efficiency experts have teamed up to solve the conundrum.

One important new step proposed is to allow freeholders the legal right to recover costs of energy saving improvements. The reasonable costs of installing cavity wall and/or loft insulation could in future be recoverable from a leaseholder.

If these changes to legislation are introduced, leaseholders on the other hand will find it easier to carry out improvements inside their own properties, something which often can be limited by current leases which restrict “structural alterations” or even any alterations at all. This can affect, for example, installation of new, efficient boilers inside flats or installation of internal wall insulation.

The bottom line is freeholders, leaseholders and tenants are all going to have to get on a lot better in future, if they’re to save on fuel bills. At least, the proposed new laws would remove many of the obstacles which are blighting current old housing stock, especially flats. The moves will also help the Government tackle its challenging fuel poverty targets.

So what might a survey of flat owners say about such proposals? 8 out of ten may just notice a huge difference in their heating bills, not to mention feeling more comfortable and being much healthier.

About Joanne Wade

Joanne Wade

Years In Industry: Joanne has worked in the energy efficiency sector for over 25 years. Before taking over as CEO of ACE in 2014, Joanne's work included five years as a Director of sustainability consultancy Impetus Consulting, time as an academic at the University of Oxford, freelance policy and academic work and also a nine year stint as head of the Research team at ACE. Joanne Chairs the Energy Advisory Panel of the Energy Institute and is Vice President of the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
Hobbies: Joanne has a passion for dance, and loves summer holidays in Cornwall
What's new for 2017?: new team members and a new office for ACE; and, of course, new and better policies for energy efficiency...

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