Energy efficiency in homes

Cost of living crisis: find out what help is available

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 heating system change to low and zero-carbon heating technologies. To help with this, we will introduce regulations and provide financial support to promote the uptake of such heating systems, as detailed below.

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.

One of the ways in which we are improving home energy efficiency is by proposing long-term domestic standards.

In the Heat in buildings strategy (October 2021), we have also set out plans for how we will introduce regulations by 2025 for:

To prevent poor energy efficiency from contributing to fuel poverty, we have also set clear targets for improving the energy efficiency standards to the equivalent of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) B for households in fuel poverty.

Long-term domestic standards

Our consultation on Scotland’s Heat in buildings strategy demonstrated a clear consensus around setting long-term targets for energy efficiency in Scotland. In response, we will introduce regulations requiring that all residential properties in Scotland achieve an Energy Performance Certificate rating of at least equivalent to EPC C by 2033, where technically and legally feasible and cost-effective.

We are using EPCs to set the standard because the consultation showed that EPCs are widely known and provide a clear way to model and understand a building's energy performance. We are, however, aware of issues with the current EPC system, which we are planning to address through reform. We consulted in 2021 on our proposals to reform the EPC framework as set out in the Heat in buildings strategy. Read the “Energy Performance Certificates” section for more information.

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.

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

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

Standards for the private rented sector

Private rented accommodation generally has poorer energy efficiency than other areas in the domestic sector. We are committed to improving the energy efficiency of these homes so that tenants can enjoy homes that are warmer and cheaper to heat.

The Heat in buildings strategy consolidates our approach to the zero emissions heat transition, finalising the draft published for consultation in February 2021 and providing a firm foundation for the heat transition in Scotland. 

It also confirms our approach to the introduction of a regulatory framework for energy efficiency and heat supply. This strengthens previous commitments made in the 2018 Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map, so that it covers both energy efficiency and zero-emissions heating to the extent that our powers allow.

For the private rented sector, we had previously committed to the introduction of regulations to ensure properties in the private rented sector reach an EPC D by 2025. However, we recognise that the private rented sector has been significantly affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As a result we will now work with the sector to introduce regulations in 2025, requiring all private rented sector properties to reach a minimum standard equivalent to EPC C by 2025 where technically feasible and cost-effective, at change of tenancy, with a backstop of 2028 for all remaining existing properties. The previous option to introduce a standard of EPC D will not now be taken forward.

We will seek to consult during 2022 on a standard of EPC C (equivalent) for all tenures, together with a proposed all-tenure zero emissions heat standard and any legislation needed to underpin this. 

This change to previously trailed standards for the PRS reflects our recognition of the ongoing pressure being faced by this sector, whilst maintaining our commitment to improving the energy efficiency of all domestic housing stock in Scotland.

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 have set out in our Heat in buildings strategy proposals to introduce energy efficiency regulations between 2023 to 2025 requiring all owner occupier homes to be energy efficient, meeting an EPC band C equivalent where technically feasible and cost effective. The Heat in buildings strategy also sets out our proposals mandating all buildings (including owner occupier homes) to switch to a zero-emissions heating system by 2045.

In December 2019, we consulted on proposals for introducing minimum energy efficiency standards in owner occupied housing, which included potential options for defining cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility, options for compliance and reform of the EPC assessment process. We will consult in 2022 on the detailed proposals for introducing owner occupier energy efficiency proposals.

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.

Standards for domestic heating

Fossil fuel heating systems – such as gas and oil boilers as well as LPG systems – supply space heating (and often hot water) services to around 89% of Scotland’s homes.

Our use of fossil fuel heating systems makes a significant contribution to Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, but there are alternatives, such as heat pumps and heat networks, which produce zero direct emissions (ZDE).

To encourage the transition to ZDE heating systems, we will legislate to introduce a new heat standard for Scotland that will require all homes to use ZDE heating systems by a ‘backstop date’ in 2045.

This legislation will support our commitment to phasing out the need to install new or replacement fossil fuel boilers in off gas properties from 2025, and in on-gas areas from 2030.

It may be appropriate to have an earlier ‘backstop date’ for certain types of properties or areas. This could, for example, apply in the ‘low regrets' areas of activity, such as where heat network zones have been identified and a heat network is available, or in high emissions properties, such as those that currently use heating oil or coal as their primary heating fuel.

We will consult further on these proposals during 2022 and, in doing so, we will consider whether these regulations will use the same (or similar) trigger points as those applying to energy efficiency standards.

New build heat standards (NBHS)

We are developing regulations which will require all new homes and buildings applying for a building warrant from 2024 to only use zero direct emissions heating. This means that, where there is an installed heating system contained within the curtilage of a new building, it will be required to produce zero direct greenhouse gas emissions (at the point of use). NBHS will be technology agnostic, allowing developers flexibility in the choice of technology used.

We are actively working with the construction, property and commercial development sectors to identify and support good practice to inform the development of new regulations to achieve this. An external working group has been established to act as a ‘critical friend’ and provide advice and expertise during the development of the NBHS.

We consulted on our proposals in early 2021, and have since published the analysis of the consultation responses. We will use the feedback received through this consultation to shape our proposals, with a further round of consultation planned for 2022 ahead of regulations being implemented in 2024.

We are regularly liaising with the UK Government on a similar requirement on new homes and buildings in England and Wales (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 and social housing, or include commercial properties. While some energy efficiency measures can be installed in individual flats, others have to be performed at once and across the whole building for works to be technically feasible and cost effective. In some cases, a communal heat solution may also 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 zero emissions heating system in a multi-owner and/or mixed-use building requires owners to act together and 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.

We are also establishing an expert short-life working group to develop options for the best regulatory approach for multi-owner and mixed-use buildings which would see them required to reach a good level of energy efficiency, where technically feasible and cost effective, and install a zero emissions heating supply. We intend to put these options out for public consultation later this year.

Back to top