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Insulation ‘better value for money’ than heating

An in-depth report into domestic refurbishment has suggested insulation measures are more cost-effective than low-carbon heating technologies.

The report by the Construction Products Association, An Introduction to Low Carbon Domestic Refurbishment, details the cost-effectiveness of retrofit technologies and methods. Low carbon heating devices have been found to cost more for each tonne of carbon dioxide saved than insulation measures when retrofitting older homes, according to the report.

An analysis of the carbon cost-effectiveness for a semidetached house built in the 1930s discovered that over a 60-year period, insulation measures gave the best pay back per tonne of CO2 saved.

According to the report, cavity wall insulation would save the householder £163 per tonne of CO2 saved after the 60-year period. By contrast, ground source heat pumps would cost £1,305 for the period, while air source heating
would cost £6,553, the second worst £/tonne of CO2 saving over 60 years.

Over the 60-year period low-energy lights were found to be the most cost-effective low carbon measure.

Chief construction adviser Paul Morrell said that heating devices will increase in efficiency as the price of carbon rises. Mr Morrell said: “I would argue that given the current limited price of carbon, we need to look ahead at
what cost-effectiveness will mean in the future in the face of undoubted rises in the price of carbon.”

He added that while some suppliers would no doubt want to challenge the numbers on some level, the more worthy cause of action would be to continue to investigate ways of “making products more efficient”.

According to the latest figures from the Department for Energyand Climate Change, the price of a tonne of CO2 is currently around £14.10, but the DECC forecasts that this will rise to £70 by 2030 and £200 by 2050.

Under the proposed Conservatives Green Deal every home in the country will have access to £6,500 for domestic
refurbishment to reduce carbon emissions.

Construction Products Association industry affairs director John Tebbit said that there is a place for all technologies. He said: “The cost-effectiveness is relevant if you only have so much to spend.

“Rather than buying a wind turbine you can see the obvious start might be to tackle the air-tightness.
“Our statistics are based on an older home from the 1930s. If your house is much better performing
because it is from the 1990s you wont get much more improvement by putting in more insulation so you will have to look to other technologies.

“Low-energy light bulbs are currently the most cost effective for reducing carbon.

“But the thing is that you need to do more than that. The small measures are such a no brainer but you need to move onto other things as well.”