How Retrofit Can Transform Lives: The Human Impact of Upgrading UK Homes  

The UK is facing a climate emergency, and our homes are a big part of the problem. Heating and hot water in our existing housing stock accounts for 18% of the UK’s total annual carbon emissions. But retrofit isn’t just about reducing emissions—done right, it can dramatically improve people’s health, comfort, and quality of life while reducing fuel poverty. 

Slashing Energy Demand: What Best-Practice Retrofit Can Achieve  

A recent analysis by LETI (London Energy Transformation Initiative) found that a best-practice retrofit could slash the average home’s space heating demand from 130 kWh/m2/year to just 50 kWh/m2/year. 

When combined with heat pump installation, total energy use could be cut by an impressive 75%. This reduction scale would bring existing homes close to the performance of a new build. 

Beyond Energy Savings: Transforming the Living Experience 

But beyond saving energy, retrofit done well can transform the experience of living in a home. Too many UK homes suffer from draughts, damp, condensation, mould and poor indoor air quality. 

Tackling Fuel Poverty and Improving Health 

Fuel poverty affects over 3 million households who struggle to afford to keep their homes warm. 

A best practice whole-house retrofit addresses all these issues. It makes homes warmer and more comfortable, with better ventilation and no cold draughts. Health is improved through better air quality and the elimination of damp and mould. With lower energy use, fuel bills become much more affordable, lifting people out of fuel poverty. 

The benefits extend beyond individuals and families. Research has shown that retrofit can reduce crime and antisocial behaviour in an area, as people feel happier and less stressed in their homes. 

Children have been found to focus better on learning and homework in a healthy home environment. Adults are more productive at work. Society benefits from a reduced burden on health services and less poverty. 

Scaled across the UK’s 28 million existing homes, retrofit clearly has huge potential to improve lives while slashing carbon emissions. 

The Construction Leadership Council estimates a national retrofit programme could create half a million new jobs by 2030 and add over £300bn to the economy. 

The Importance of a Whole-House Approach 

We have the opportunity to make our homes fit for the future while dramatically enhancing occupants’ quality of life. However, retrofit must follow a quality whole-house approach to realise the benefits. Single measures often fail to deliver energy savings and can even worsen problems like damp and mould if not properly considered. 

The Way Forward: Policy Support and Funding Needed 

The technology, knowledge, and skills exist to retrofit homes to a high standard. What’s needed now is the policy support and funding to roll it out across the UK housing stock. We can’t afford not to because of the climate emergency and our leaky, unhealthy homes. The health and well-being of millions of households depend on getting retrofit right. 

Done well, it can be life-transforming. 

Choosing the right retrofit solutions can be daunting, but at VOR Group, we’re here to guide you through the process. Whether you’re a homeowner or a housing association, we have the expertise to support you.  

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