What is net-zero?
The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be a net-zero nation and has created a new website with information about what this means and why it is important. They argue that if we do not take action now, we risk catastrophic flooding, loss of biodiversity and life threatening rainstorms. More information.
The scale of the challenge
The climate emergency affects everyone and the Scottish Government has committed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045 with interim targets to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 and 90% by 2040. Our homes generate about 13% of all emissions in Scotland.
This means that homes across all tenures, old and new, must become more energy efficient and begin to move away from using high carbon fossil fuel heating systems like gas boilers. The majority of homes will need to use low or zero carbon heating by 2045 if targets are to be met.
While emissions from new homes have already been reduced by 70% from 1990 baselines due to pro-active changes to building regulations improving their energy-efficiency (and are set to decrease further to get to net zero), the biggest challenge is going to be transforming our existing homes – more than 80% of existing homes will still be in use in 2050, which means ensuring they are warm, low carbon and affordable to heat is critical if we are to meet carbon emissions targets.
Some climate change solutions can be expensive to install and electric heating can be more expensive. But by making the home more energy efficient (reducing the amount of heat needed) and by making sure people can access advice, information and support, these costs can be reduced.
Advice on reducing energy use
Most homes lose heat through walls, the roof, windows and doors, as well as under the floor. Insulating and draughtproofing reduces the amount of energy you need to heat your home – making your home feel warmer and keeping bills down too.
Small changes can also make a big difference – tenants and homeowners can reduce the amount of energy they use and save up to £354 per year on their bills by making simple changes like switching to energy efficient lightbulbs, reducing the temperature on the thermostat and spending less time in the shower. You can find top tips on reducing energy use on the Energy Saving Trust website.
If you don’t have one already, a Smart Meter can help you to keep track of the energy you are using and remind you to switch off appliances when you’re not using them. You can find out more about Smart Meters on the Energy Action Scotland website https://www.eas.org.uk/en/smart-meters_50555/and contact your energy supplier directly to find out if you can have one installed.
Funding for home improvements
Did you know that homeowners and private landlords can be eligible for grants or zero interest loans to help cover the costs of energy efficiency improvements and renewables? Scottish Government funding is managed by Home Energy Scotland and you can find more information online.
Advice for carrying out repairs and maintenance in flats
It can be challenging for owners in blocks of flats to arrange maintenance or improvements if the other owners aren’t cooperating. You can get impartial advice on homeowners rights and responsibilities for repairs and improvements from Under one Roof.
Help with fuel bills
People on low incomes may be entitled to help to cover the cost of their bills. Many social landlords and local authorities offer advice on benefits or you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or find more information online.