Energy Company Obligation
Introduced in 2013, ECO is an obligation on larger energy suppliers to supply fuel poor consumers across Great Britain with energy efficiency and heating measures – with the next phase, ECO4 (2022 to 2026), valued at £1 billion per year. ECO4 will target the poorest performing homes in Bands D, E, F and G and there will be a clear move towards a multiple measure approach. Proposals indicate that there will be a focus on hard-to-treat properties, including those with solid walls. The Solid Wall Minimum Requirement has increased to 22,000 under ECO4 Building Regulations.
The Scottish Government is currently undertaking a reform of its Building Regulations. If implemented, the proposals would see a significant tightening to fabric efficiency standards for new buildings and work to existing buildings.
Scotland’s 2019 Fuel Poverty Act sets out the Scottish Government’s targets that by 2040:
- No more than 5% of households should be in fuel poverty.
- No more than 1% of households should be in extreme fuel poverty.
- The median fuel poverty gap of households in fuel poverty is no more than £250 in 2015 prices before adding inflation.
Each of these targets must be achieved not just in Scotland as a whole but also within each of the 32 local authority areas. There are also interim targets in place for 2030 and 2035, although these only need to be met at a national level.
The Scottish Government also outlined several other EPC targets in its landmark Heat in Buildings Strategy alongside policies to enable these targets to be met. Key targets proposed included:
- Private rented properties to meet a minimum of EPC Band C from 2025 onwards, with a backstop of 2028.
- Domestic owner-occupied properties to meet EPC Band C by 2033.
- Social housing to meet, or be treated as meeting EPC B, or be as energy efficient as practicably possible by the end of December 2032.
Scotland New Build Heat Standard
The Scottish Government has committed to ensuring that, from 2024, new buildings use heating systems that produce zero direct emissions at the point of use.
Warmer Homes Scotland
Over 22,000 households have received support for energy efficiency improvements via the Warmer Homes Scotland programme since the scheme was launched in 2015. Eligible improvements are determined based on a survey of the property but may include:
- Wall Insulation
- Loft Insulation
- Draught Proofing
- Central heating
In most cases, all costs are met by the Scottish Government. Where a consumer contribution is required (for high-cost measures), an interest-free loan is available to help consumers meet the costs of their contribution.
Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland
Via the HEEPS area-based schemes, the Scottish Government fund local authorities to develop and deliver energy efficiency programmes in areas with high levels of fuel poverty. The most commonly installed measure is solid wall insulation, and the area-based schemes are designed and delivered by councils with local delivery partners. The funding provided by the Scottish Government is blended with ECO funding, owner contributions and funding from registered social landlords who may choose to insulate their homes at the same time.