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Retrofit projects need to be more targeted

With so much of the UK's existing housing stock being highly inefficient when it comes to energy use, there have been a number of schemes established in recent years to try to upgrade the homes. This has been seen as particularly important since an estimated 80 per cent of the current dwellings will still be in use in 2050.

But, is upgrading these homes with solid wall insulation actually the best way to deal with the problem of fuel poverty? Or would it actually be better to knock down the old homes and rebuild them in the most environmentally friendly way possible?

Well, it seems that the answer to that question is "it depends". That's according to a new report from the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). It suggests that decision-makers need to consider the costs more carefully - and be more selective about which homes get deep retrofits, and which ones get demolished then re-built to modern standards.

However, it's important to note that there will still be many cases where the upgrades are the most appropriate option. In fact, ETI says that the best way to cheaply improve efficiency is to upgrade the four million homes with hard-to-treat cavity walls.

Chief engineer at the ETI, Andrew Haslet, explained the need for taking a more targeted approach to housing retrofits, and also noted the importance of changing where our energy comes from. "Improving the thermal efficiency of significant parts of the existing UK housing stock over the next 30 years is an important part of a cost-effective UK decarbonisation strategy but it cannot substitute for decarbonising the supply of energy to buildings," he said.

Of course, improvements like installing thermal wall insulation and improving boiler efficiency aren't just about the environment - there's also the human consideration. Millions of households are dealing with fuel poverty and can't afford to heat their homes to a reasonable level. By cutting down on the amount of energy needed to keep a house warm, we can reduce a family's carbon footprint, and its winter fuel bills.