UK housing is amongst the least energy efficient homes in the whole of Europe. Running a fully-functioning home accounts for nearly half of the UK’s yearly carbon emissions. Housing is so poorly insulated that a third of all UK homes (6.7 million) are rated E or worse on their energy performance certificate, meaning they have a low standard of energy efficiency.
Not only are Britain’s poorly insulated homes having a negative impact on the environment, but also on their inhabitants’ standard of living. According to recent research, the UK comes bottom of a fuel poverty league table for Western Europe and figures from 2011 revealed that a quarter of the people in question were living in fuel poverty, amounting to a grand total of 4.5 million homes. As UK homes are so poorly insulated, any in the house heat is lost very quickly, meaning that Brits are spending a small fortune on energy bills and are essentially burning cash to stay warm for only a short period of time. With energy prices substantially increasing this year, many simply can’t afford to heat their homes during the cold winter months, forcing them into fuel poverty. For example, British Gas has increased their gas prices by a staggering 8.4% and its electricity prices by 10.4% in recent years.
The older generation are among the worst suffers of fuel poverty with Age UK estimating that 1.7 million older people in the UK cannot meet the expense of heating their homes, and over a third (36%) of older people in the UK say they try to spend a majority of their time in a single room to save money. This can cause major health issues and up to 24,000 older people could die in the cold during the winter months.
With conditions in UK housing becoming rather serious, the Government has already made a conscious effort to help reduce household bills, reduce carbon emissions and improve the general standards of living. For instance, the Green Deal was introduced at the beginning of 2013, with the objective to encourage household’s to take out loans to cover the cost of making their homes more energy efficient. However, the scheme hasn’t been as effective as hoped – the government aimed to convert 10,000 homes into the scheme for 2013, when actually there was not one live deal in the first half of the year in spite of 241 household’s agreeing to the funding.
Therefore, the question is what else can be changed to develop the efficiency of homes within the UK? One of the major issues is the fact that so much of Britain’s housing in the UK is relatively old, and therefore the UK would benefit from newer housing which has less impact on the environment, such as the new generations of manufactured homes like mobile homes and park homes.
Mobile housing is popular in the U.S and according to research carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy, this type of housing can save up to 55% of energy when compared to a house without energy efficient facilities and appliances. Furthermore, Omar Homes a company that provide mobile homes and park homes, are built with ‘being green’ in mind. The homes can be built with water heat pumps, solar photovoltaic panels and ground source heat pumps. Therefore, taking this into consideration; could more manufactured housing be the answer to helping Britain become more green?
The manufactured housing industry has already seen considerable interest towards mobile and static housing. For example, companies like Harvey Longsons, who focus on static caravans for sale have seen outstanding results in recent years. Conversely, if more mobile housing communities were more available it could also help solve the problem of fuel poverty for the ageing population, as these types of communities are often a suitable lifestyle for retirement. The retiree can be surrounded by similarly aged neighbours and have communal activities more available to them. As opposed to elderly people continuing to live in their family home, (which can often be s too large for their needs, and are not cost efficient), perhaps if they had the option, more retirees would move to manufactured housing communities that will not only save them money on energy prices and provide them with a more fulfilled lifestyle, but will also significantly reduce their carbon footprint.