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Column 8th September 2021

Home or Cars? Which are most carbon guzzling?

Over the last three weeks I’ve covered consultations which rely on housing growth across Oxfordshire so when I saw the latest update on the Government planning portal I just had to laugh.

The headline reads “England’s homes pose greater climate threat than cars”.

It’s based on a study by the National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents housing associations, that says the 25 million homes in England produce a total of 58.5 million tonnes of C02 every year.

The 27 million cars in the country only produce 56 million tonnes of carbon so houses generate more carbon than cars.

I quote: “The research blames the threat on a combination of gas central heating and poor insulation. This means heat easily leaks out of homes, which then require even more gas to keep them warm, with the average family or household in England currently producing more CO2 every year by living in their home than by driving.”

Yet nearly all new homes being built in Oxfordshire have gas central heating and will continue to do so until government legislation forces developers to change.

Insulation in these new homes is at the minimum standard required – once again until the government changes the law.

The government is committed to carbon reduction targets and bans the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2030 but there is no date for the removal of fossil fuel heating.

Yes, I know I’m concentrating on new homes, but it’s a lot easier to get things right when starting from scratch than retro fitting later.

A report from the Committee on Climate Change in 2019 said it would cost £26,300 to install low-carbon heating in an existing house – to install it in a new home, on the other hand, would only cost £4,800.

The impact of the Covid pandemic is also affecting emissions from homes as we’re all being asked to improve ventilation, but improving ventilation in our climate generally means that we need to use more heating to compensate.

So we may all need ventilation units which recover the heat but provide plentiful fresh air.

These units are available but require homes to be airtight and as well insulated as possible.

The less air leaks through walls, windows, doors or the roof, the better the heat recovery unit will work.

So changing your car is easy, improving your home is much harder.


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