Retrofitting – the Effective way to Achieve C02 Savings in the UK Housing Sector

Soapbox Article by Claus Best Discussing the Benefits of Retrofitting

With the Government’s vote to scrap zero carbon homes and estimation that the UK population will rise by almost 10 million by 2035, there is no better time to start pushing – and I mean really pushing – the retrofitting of existing homes to achieve CO2 savings.

Without action, the toxic cocktail of poorly built homes and a rapidly growing population will have wide reaching implications for the nation. One major problem is the downgrading of planned building standards, which are again slipping behind the times and expectations of the industry itself. Insulation standards in the UK have been behind lots of continental countries already and will be sliding further down the scale now. With the new housing stock still being built to lower efficiency standards at least until 2020 this might well mean that the new housing stock will need to update its energy efficiency within a few years after being built.

Meanwhile, the government has narrowly passed a motion scrapping the need for zero carbon homes. Despite being forced into a second debate and vote on the issue by House of Lords intervention, parliament succeeded in placing the Zero Carbon Homes scheme to the scrap heap with a majority of just four votes. This issue also has wider implications.

The government had signed up to the CO2 reduction target of 80% energy used to heat properties by 2050 with a 1990 base-line. The aim has been seen as too difficult to achieve before the cancellation of the zero carbon homes due to the massive backlog of improvements to the older housing stock, which will be still in place by that time. With the cancellation of the zero carbon standard, the best way to achieve the CO2 savings is with a huge push to retrofit existing homes. With no replacement of the Green Deal scheme in sight, okay it wasn’t great, and with hardly any other support for property improvements available, it is very difficult to encourage clients to deal with a retrofit project. Customers with savings in very low interest paying accounts will need to understand that they can achieve better savings and a more comfortable home by investing in home improvements. It can be done and with significant impact.

I’ve worked across the UK and abroad coordinating retrofit work and improving efficiency of existing homes. I started with my own home – Hay Tor in Claus Best retrofitted houseShropshire in 2009. Here is the link to my home on the low energy website:,%20Shrewsbury.  It was transformed from a cold and draughty bungalow to a warm and comfy home of Superhome standard. The result was a comfortable home with the thermostat set at 20C all year round and dual fuel bills at £47 a month. This approach can be applied to any size and age of property and can achieve huge savings for homeowners on their bills whilst most importantly reducing CO2 dramatically.

I really believe we should be concentrating on how to achieve an 80% CO2 reduction through retrofit, so let us begin the Retrofit Revolution.

Claus Best

Claus Best 1Claus has a background in the building trade for 25 years and is the founder of Smart Energy Services in Shropshire. He became seriously involved in retrofitting properties seven years ago, completing a Retrofit Coordinator Diploma Course at CoRE.  He has since retrofitted his own house in Shropshire to a low energy home and has worked on further houses as well as being part of campaigning groups in the retrofit sector to help people reduce their C02 consumption and fuel bills.

© 2016: Claus Best and AECB (for Terms and Conditions click here)

Continue the conversation – please post your response to this Soapbox on the AECB forum here. (AECB members only – please ensure you are logged in).

The Soapbox slot is open to any AECB member with a message they want to get across to fellow members and to the wider sustainable building world – the AECB website has at least 30,000 people viewing it every year.   If you’ve got an important point to make, email here explaining what you want to say and why. Soapboxes are around 800 words long – all you will need to supply is the words, and your picture.