Energy efficiency in historic buildings

New plans have been published today to remove barriers and drive energy efficiency in historic homes, cutting energy bills for households across the country, while also ensuring that the important historical and beautiful features of these homes are properly protected.

The Government wants to see the energy efficiency of historic homes improved but without the blight of ugly or inappropriate retrofit damaging these properties.

The Government has published its review into the challenges households face when retrofitting in conservation areas and listed buildings. 

Currently, owners of home built before 1919 face paying on average £428 a year more on energy bills if their home is not energy efficient, while the review found planning was a major issue faced by households, with frustration about the time it takes to get planning permission. 

The review has set out a series of commitments to drive energy efficiency and low carbon heating improvements to listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas across England, as part of the Government’s commitment to reach Net Zero by 2050. 

This seems like a logical plan given the Governments drive to improve energy efficiency. You will recall that the Government previously stated that properties would need to reach a Band C EPC in order that they continue to be rented. Whilst the timescale for compliance has been removed, the threat of such action has meant that almost half of all homes in England are now at an EPC rating of C or above, up from only 14% in 2010.

Commitments set out in the review to drive energy efficiency include: 

  • A consultation on new national development management policy specially for historic buildings, ensuring greater certainty and consistency in decisions. 
  • Consulting on the greater use of Listed Building Consent Orders to support building improvements, removing the need to submit individual listed building consent applications. 
  • Developing clearer guidance for historic homeowners on improving energy efficiency and supporting the construction industry to better deliver retrofitting services. 
  • Consulting on reforms to Energy Performance Certificates to ensure they are  accurate, reliable and trustworthy. 

The measures outlined in ‘Adapting Historic Homes for Energy Efficiency: A Review of the Barriers’, will make life easier for those who own and live in historic homes, while ensuring the country’s heritage is protected. 

 The review has been developed in partnership with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, supported by Historic England. 

 In the British Energy Security Strategy, published April 2022, the Government committed to undertake a review of the practical planning barriers households can face when installing energy efficiency measures such as improved glazing in conservation areas and listed buildings.   

 Evidence collected during the review and feedback from stakeholders highlighted that barriers were wider than just the planning system. The scope of the review was therefore, broadened to examine a wider set of challenges to retrofitting historic homes, and to identify where further work is needed.

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