Energy efficiency in homes

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We are improving the energy efficiency of homes in Scotland to support our work on eradicating fuel poverty, and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, energy efficiency improvement alone will not get us close to our targets for net zero. We need a strong focus on replacing polluting heating systems with clean heating technologies. To help with this, we are proposing to pass new laws, allowing us to introduce regulations which would promote the uptake of clean heating systems alongside improvements to energy efficiency. Further details can be found in our consultation on proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill.

With around 2.45 million homes in Scotland, all varied in type, use, size, age, construction, and energy efficiency, this work will bring many challenges.

To prevent poor energy efficiency from contributing to fuel poverty, our ambition is to maximise the number of fuel poor households having attained the equivalent of an EPC B by 2040.

Consultation on proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill

We published a consultation on proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill on 28 November 2023. This seeks views on the introduction of a new Heat in Buildings Standard. This standard would require privately-owned homes across Scotland to meet a minimum standard of energy efficiency before the end of 2033, and before the end of 2028 for homes in the private rented sector. It also proposes to prohibit the use of polluting heating systems after 2045.

Some properties would also be asked to transition to clean heating systems more quickly in certain circumstances, for example following the purchase of a property or when a heat network connection is available in a Heat Network Zone. 

The proposals we are consulting on would mean that properties would need to show they had met a minimum standard of energy efficiency either through installing as many measures from a prescribed list that are suitable for their property, or by showing they had met a minimum standard of fabric efficiency through a building assessment.

We recognise that some properties may be constrained in terms of technology options available, which is why we are proposing that the requirement to meet the energy efficiency standard would be predicated on it being technically feasible. Furthermore, we are proposing a technology-neutral approach to decarbonising heating in homes across Scotland, with homeowners being able to choose the clean heating technology which is right for them. 

We know these proposals would impact us all and so we want to receive views from individuals, organisations and communities across the length and breadth of Scotland to ensure a future Heat in Buildings Bill works for everyone.

The consultation is open for feedback until 8 March 2024. We encourage you to give us your views here: Delivering Net Zero for Scotland's Buildings, A Consultation on proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Standards for the social rented sector

We introduced the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) in 2014. As a result, homes in the social rented sector are now some of the most energy efficient in Scotland, with 85% already achieving EPC D or above.

We want to continue the progress that has been made and, following the review of EESSH in 2017/18, we consulted on further proposals for social housing.

The Consultation on the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing post-2020 (EESSH2) proposed a target to maximise the number of homes in the social rented sector achieving EPC B by 2032, with no detriment to environmental impact or air quality. The consultation also proposed that no social housing should be let after 2025 if the energy efficiency rating is lower than EPC D.  As well as proposing these standards, the consultation considered the funding offer required to support social landlords to deliver the new standard. Read an analysis of the consultation.

We have issued interim guidance for social landlords to the sector until a new standard is established.

Following work over the past year between the Scottish Government and social housing sector partners, we have published a consultation seeking views on proposals for a new Social Housing Net Zero Standard (November 2023). 

We have produced the following guides on improving energy efficiency in social housing:

Find more information on our energy efficiency in social housing page.

Standards for the private rented sector

Homes in the private rented sector are more likely to be in the lowest bands for energy efficiency when compared with other areas in the domestic sector. We are committed to improving the energy efficiency of these properties so that tenants can enjoy homes that are warmer and more affordable to heat.

Our consultation includes proposals for legislation to require a minimum energy efficiency standard to be met before the end of 2028 for the private rented sector.  It also contains a proposal to prohibit the use of polluting heating systems after 2045 (and before then at the point of property purchase or when a heat network connection is available in a Heat Network Zone).  

Standards for owner occupiers

In 2019, 62% of homes were owner occupied, of which only 42% were rated as Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C or better. We set out in our Heat in Buildings Strategy, initial proposals to improve the energy efficiency of privately owned homes across Scotland. This Strategy also set out our proposals that would prohibit all buildings from using direct emissions heating systems by 2045.

Our consultation includes proposals for legislation to require a minimum energy efficiency standard to be met before the end of 2033 for privately-owned homes. We are proposing properties being used as short-term lets would be required to meet this standard by 2033 alongside owner occupied homes. It also contains a proposal to prohibit the use of polluting heating systems after 2045, and before then at the point of property purchase or when a heat network connection is available in a Heat Network Zone.  

Households in fuel poverty

The Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act sets statutory targets for reducing fuel poverty. It also introduces a new definition which aligns fuel poverty more closely with relative income poverty and requires Scottish ministers to produce a comprehensive strategy to show how they intend to meet the targets. 

The Fuel Poverty strategy (December 2021) includes actions to tackle each of the four drivers of fuel poverty:

  • poor energy efficiency of the home
  • high energy costs
  • low household income
  • how energy is used in the home

We already have a range of energy saving home improvements schemes to support people who have difficulty paying their fuel bills or keeping their home warm.

Further information is available on our home energy and fuel poverty policy.

New build heat standards (NBHS)

There are separate regulations for heating new domestic and non-domestic buildings.  These regulations require all new homes and buildings - constructed under a building warrant applied for on or after 1 April 2024, - to no longer use direct emissions heating systems.  This is technology agnostic, allowing developers flexibility in the choice of technology used.

Read more information in our factsheet on the New Build Heat Standard

We continue to liaise with the UK Government on their equivalent Future Homes and Future Building Standards (to be introduced in 2025).

Multi-owner and mixed-use buildings

Multi-owner and mixed-use buildings make up a significant portion of the building stock, with tenements and other flats accounting for around 40% of all homes in Scotland.

These buildings can include a mixture of owner occupied, private rented, social housing, and/or commercial properties. The Heat in Buildings Strategy acknowledges the unique challenges that are presented in tenements and other flats and buildings which have multiple-owners and mixed tenures. While some energy efficiency measures and clean heat systems may be possible in individual flats, in some cases, communal solutions may have advantages over individual systems. It may, therefore, be more helpful for energy efficiency measures and new heating systems to be installed in whole buildings rather than individual flats.

Carrying out common works to improve energy efficiency or install a communal clean heat system in a multi-owner and/or mixed-use building requires owners to act together and this can prove challenging. To facilitate common works we have asked the Scottish Law Commission to undertake a Law Reform Project with a view to drafting a new Tenements Maintenance Bill. This proposal builds on recommendations made by the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Working Group on Tenement Maintenance.

A Tenements Short Life Working Group (SLWG) was established to develop options for the best regulatory approach for tenement buildings to reach a good level of energy efficiency and install clean heating systems. The Group’s work concluded in 2023 with their final report and recommendations being published in November 2023. The Scottish Government is considering how best to take these recommendations forward.

Traditional and protected buildings

We want to ensure that our proposals requiring Scotland’s homes to reach a good level of energy efficiency and make the switch to clean heating are technically feasible and cost effective. We recognise it may be more challenging for some homes and buildings to meet the proposed energy efficiency standards than for others due to their construction, or due to limitations on works associated with their character or designation, for example listed buildings.

We are working closely work with stakeholders in the traditional and protected space, including Historic Environment Scotland, to develop approaches and solutions to transition Scotland’s historic and listed buildings to low and zero emissions heating while respecting and preserving the special characteristics of our buildings and places.

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