Council awarded £1.08m to improve energy efficiency of non-gas heated homes in Oxford

Published: Thursday, 30th March 2023

Oxford City Council has been awarded a further £1.08 million of government funding to help improve the energy efficiency of private sector homes not heated by mains gas in Oxford.

The council has received £1,080,000 as part of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s Home Upgrade Grant (HUG 2). The HUG2 funding award follows the council's success in securing up to £1.9m last year for similar energy efficiency schemes in private sector homes.

The funding aims to provide free energy efficiency upgrades and low carbon heating for up to 60 households in Oxford that:

  • are on a low income – earning an annual household income of £31,000 or less
  • are using off-gas grid heating - such as electricity, oil, liquid propane gas, and solid fuels. Homes that are connected to the grid for cooking, but use off-gas grid heating are also eligible
  • have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) between D and G  

Accessing the main gas grid is the most common way of heating a home in England. However, the Energy Saving Trust estimates that approximately four million households across the UK are off the gas grid – meaning they do not have access to mains gas for heating. Instead, these homes often rely on alternative sources of fuel, which can be more expensive.

The HUG2 funding aims to support eligible properties to transition away from off-grid by providing a range of free energy and cost saving upgrades – also known as retrofitting.

Retrofitting involves adding new features to existing buildings and the programme will take a ‘fabric first’ approach. This means improving buildings to minimise energy use through modifications like enhanced insulation and air tightness and optimising natural ventilation.

In Oxford, it is estimated that the majority of off-grid non-gas-heated homes use electric heating as their main source of heating.

The grant is being coordinated through the Greater South East Net Zero Hub which will be supporting a consortium of local authorities and working with installers to identify which retrofitting improvements will provide the greatest benefits.

The fund is open to both homeowners and those living in private rented properties.

Homes that do not have an EPC rating will also be provided with a free assessment.

All work carried out as part of the grant funding must be completed by 31 March 2025.

Further information, including information on how residents can apply, will be announced in the coming weeks.  

Tackling Oxford’s housing emissions

Oxford has a target to become a net zero carbon city by 2040 – ten years ahead of the government’s deadline – and retrofitting existing homes is key to realising that.

In Oxford, residential buildings are the largest contributor to Oxford’s carbon emissions, making up 29% of total emissions, with privately rented and owned homes contributing to 79% of residential housing emissions in Oxford.

The funding follows the announcement last week that the council had won government funding to carry out a £7.6 million investment programme to improve energy efficiency in more than 300 council homes.

“I am delighted that we have been awarded this grant funding to help low-income residents living in hard to heat homes. Buildings are one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions in Oxford, and residential buildings make up the majority of these emissions. If we are to achieve a net zero carbon Oxford by 2040, we need to help residents to make their homes more energy efficient through retrofitting.”

Councillor Anna Railton, cabinet member for zero carbon Oxford and climate justice

“This investment will help thousands of households to heat their homes for less, keep them warm for longer and could save hundreds on their annual energy bill.

“The green energy sector is growing, and this funding will support green jobs and provide the training needed to deliver these vital upgrades to homes.”

Lord Callanan, minister for energy efficiency and green finance