City Council shares how to make green improvements to your home’s energy efficiency

Published: Friday, 16th October 2020

Oxford residents can take action to help improve the energy efficiency and warmth in their homes with the launch of the Government’s Green Homes Grants, as well as local initiatives across the city.

Oxford City Council unanimously declared a climate emergency in January 2019 and, with 81% of the city’s total carbon emissions coming from energy and fuel use in buildings, seeks to address the energy efficiency of buildings.

Green Homes Grant

Under the newly established Green Homes Grant, the Government is providing vouchers worth up to £5,000 or £10,000 to help cover the cost of making energy efficiency and low-carbon heating improvements to homes in England.

The vouchers will cover up to two-thirds of the cost for homeowners and landlords up to £5,000. Low-income households will be able to access £10,000 worth of vouchers to be used to cover the full cost of improvements.

Home owners and landlords of private rented and social domestic housing will be able to apply for the vouchers.

The voucher must be redeemed, and improvements completed by 31 March 2021.

What improvements can be made?

To qualify for a voucher, you will need to be installing at least one of the following ‘primary’ improvements:

  • Insulation, including solid wall, cavity wall, underfloor, loft or roof insulation.
  • Low carbon heating, such as air-source or ground-source heat pumps, or solar thermal systems, which provide renewable ways of heating your home.

If you have already installed one of the measures above, you can also use the vouchers to install ‘secondary’ measures such as draught proofing and double glazing.

The voucher cannot be used to help pay for works that were carried out prior to the voucher being issued.

More information on the Green Homes Grants, including how to apply.

Check your eligibility

Homeowners and landlords can check their eligibility for the Green Home Grants using the Simple Energy Advice eligibility webpage. The checker is able to provide an idea if you qualify for the vouchers, as well as making suggestions about what improvements may be appropriate for your home.

Cosy Homes Oxfordshire

Cosy Homes Oxfordshire – in partnership with the Low Carbon Hub – have created an app that will help residents find out the best energy efficiency improvements for their homes.

Using the app, users can get an idea of the most suitable improvements for their property, costs for improvements, and local suppliers and installers.

Using your postcode and setting your budget, the app will use publicly available information about your property to create an improvement plan that works for your house and your budget.

If you’d like to move forward with these measure you can then submit your plan to the Cosy Homes team who will advise you on the best way to do so.

Please note that due to high demand Cosy Homes Oxfordshire currently have a waiting list for their whole house retrofit service.

If you’re looking to use the Green Homes Grant they recommend going directly to the TrustMark or Simple Energy Advice websites to find certified contractors in your area.

This Autumn Cosy Homes Oxfordshire will also be holding a series of fortnightly online webinars exploring topics relating to home retrofit and energy efficiency.

Better Housing, Better Health

Better Housing Better Health gives Oxford residents a single point of contact for services, advice and grants in order to stay warm and well in their homes.

The Better Housing Better Health helpline number is 0800 107 0044, which is open between 9 am and 5 pm on weekdays.

Tips for living more sustainably

For more tips on how to live sustainably, and improve your home’s energy efficiency, Oxford Together on Climate Change has included a webpage on using energy wisely and steps you can take to reduce your carbon emissions in the home.

The website has been created by a partnership of several local organisations and offers a wide variety of things you can do locally and in your own home to help the environment.

Improving the energy efficiency of buildings

Residential buildings contribute 29% of the total emissions, and were found to be the greatest single contributor to carbon emissions. 

Privately rented and owned homes contributed 79% of residential housing emissions in Oxford and socially rented housing made up 21% of emissions.

Oxford’s Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change considered buildings as one of its five themes in 2019. Holding people to account for building efficiency was viewed as a major challenge and there was general agreement that incentives or co-benefits such as saving money on energy bills were needed to improve energy efficiency in buildings. Assembly Members saw the substantial cost of retrofitting residential properties as a significant prohibiting factor.

"Like many citizens, Citizens’ Assembly Members found it surprising that the largest proportion of emissions in Oxford came from buildings. We won’t fix our carbon problem without fixing our buildings emissions problem.

“Assembly Members were clear that the Government should step in to improve the energy efficiency of our homes, not only to reduce our bills, but meet the country’s legal target for becoming net zero carbon by 2050 at the latest. The Green Homes Grants, and support from local organisations such as Cosy Homes Oxfordshire, and Better Housing Better Health will, therefore, be of some help to homeowners.

“Improving the energy efficiency of your home matters. So, too, would a requirement by the Government that new homes be built to net zero standards. Many citizens will think it is ridiculous that, in the future, home-owners would have to go back and retrofit when the Government could just start by ensuring that new builds meet net zero standards to achieve its own net zero target.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford