Energy efficiency in homes

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.

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.

We have also set out plans to 2040 for how we will improve:

To prevent poor energy efficiency from contributing to fuel poverty, we consulted on setting a more ambitious target for improving the energy efficiency standards of households in fuel poverty.

Long-term domestic standards

Our consultation on Scotland's energy efficiency programme demonstrated a clear consensus around setting long-term targets for energy efficiency in Scotland. In response, we are proposing that all residential properties in Scotland will be required to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least EPC C by 2040.

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. However, the consultation also raised some issues with EPCs, and we have commissioned research to identify how we can improve them. We will also be doing more work with partners to ensure that EPCs record the energy efficiency of buildings more accurately.

Not all buildings will be able to achieve EPC C standard, and in some cases the cost of the work may outweigh the energy saving benefits. Between now and 2020 we will work with partners to identify buildings that may not be able to achieve the standard, but will still need to be improved as far as is reasonable.

Reaching the long-term standard will require a mixture of encouragement and regulation which will differ between the social rented, the private rented, and the owner-occupied sectors.

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 excellent 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. Analysis of the consultation is available.

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.

We have proposed that standards will be gradually increased over the lifetime of the Energy Efficient Scotland programme

On Thursday 7 October 2021, we published the finalised Heat in Buildings Strategywhich outlines the steps we will take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland’s buildings and to remove poor energy performance as a driver of fuel poverty.

The strategy consolidates our ambitious approach to the zero emissions heat transition, finalising the draft published for consultation in February 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

Owner-occupied homes account for 61% of domestic housing, and around 38% of these properties are EPC C or above.

Currently we are not intending to mandate homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Instead, we will be working with stakeholders and owner occupiers to encourage the uptake of our offer and encouraging local authorities to deliver area-based schemes that will see end-to-end support, from initial advice through to quality-assured installation of measures.

We are proposing that all owner-occupied properties should meet the long-term domestic standard of EPC C by 2040. To do this, it may be necessary to mandate action for homeowners from 2030 depending on the success of the programme in encouraging action. We sought views on this in our Energy Efficient Scotland consultation: Making our homes and buildings warmer, greener and more efficient.

We have produced the following guide explaining to homeowners how to improve the energy efficiency of their homes: Energy Efficient Scotland user guide: homeowners

Households in fuel poverty

We consulted on setting a more ambitious energy efficiency target for households in fuel poverty, to prevent poor energy efficiency from contributing to the problem.

There were around 649,000 households living in fuel poverty in 2016, of which 79% were living in homes rated below EPC C. These are our most vulnerable households, and improving the energy efficiency of their homes could reduce their heating bills significantly.

Our Fuel Poverty Strategy and the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill will set statutory targets on fuel poverty. Energy Efficient Scotland lies at the heart of that commitment, and we proposed that the homes of all fuel-poor households reach EPC C by 2030 and EPC B by 2040 where technically feasile, cost effective, and affordable to the public purse.

We already offer a range of Energy saving home improvements schemes to support people who have difficulty paying their fuel bills or keeping their home warm, and have also produced the following guide to improving energy efficiency for households in fuel poverty: Energy Efficient Scotland user guide: households experiencing fuel poverty

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