Insulation does not help lower gas usage in the long term, say Cambridge scientists

New research by Cambridge University says home insulation alone is not a “magic bullet”

Home insulation could only lead to a short-term fall in gas consumption.

That’s according to a new study by the University of Cambridge which found that insulating the lofts and cavity walls of existing UK housing stock only reduces gas consumption for the first year or two.

Researchers say all energy savings vanish by the fourth year after a retrofit.

The scientific team analysed gas consumption patterns of more than 55,000 dwellings over twelve years and found that cavity wall insulation led to an average 7% drop in gas during the first year.

This shrank to 2.7% in the second and by the fourth year, any energy savings were negligible.

Loft insulation was half as effective as cavity wall, with an initial fall in gas consumption of around 4% on average, dropping to 1.8% after one year and becoming insignificant by the second year.

The government recently announced some £6 billion in funding to reduce the energy consumption of buildings and industry by 15% over the next eight years.

Scientists argue that policymakers should encourage homeowners to “fully degasify heating”.

Professor Laura Diaz Anadon, Director of the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance, said: “Home insulation alone is not a magic bullet. High gas prices will reduce the rebound effect in the short term, as homeowners have the need to keep costs down at the front of their minds.

“In the long term, simply funding more of the same insulation roll-out to meet the UK’s carbon reduction and energy security targets may not move the dial as much as is hoped.”

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