The government must implement essential minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) for homes to reduce energy bills, improve energy security and make households more comfortable to live in, a net zero advocacy group has said.

The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), which represents more than 160 organisations, has claimed that requiring owner-occupied homes to both have basic levels of energy efficiency, and for financial institutions to provide assistance for households to fund it at the point-of-sale, is a key opportunity to protect the public ahead of the coming winter and permanently limit their exposure to future energy bill increases.

The ADE is urging policymakers to introduce the critical MEES regulations by 2026, supported by a range of green financing options that would empower homeowners to undertake necessary upgrades without having to take on upfront financial burdens.

The government’s own Heat and Building Strategy has set its sights on upgrading the majority of the UK’s 17 million inefficient homes by 2035. The ADE says that wo-thirds of these homes are owner-occupied, a sector that has historically seen limited progress in energy efficiency improvements.

Chris Friedler, Energy Efficiency Policy Manager at ADE, said: “Basic levels of energy efficiency, such as loft insulation and cavity wall insulation, should be a base requirement of homes bought or sold, in the same way you wouldn’t buy a house with defective radiators or cracks in the walls. Equally though, green finance measures from the private sector will mean the public have essential support to fund these measures, with no upfront cost under some options, allowing a flexible range of options which work for the individual household.

“On a macro level, this approach would significantly reduce gas usage in the UK, tackling climate change, enhancing energy security and significantly lowering utility bills. Moreover, the inclusion of green finance measures ensures that households have empowerments and assistance to undertake these vital upgrades, with low cost caps to mitigate risk.

“It’s important to note that currently, eight million lofts and five million cavity wall properties remain uninsulated, leaving them cold and costly to maintain. This should not be a problem in an advanced country such as the UK. It is imperative for the Government to actively support an energy system that accelerates the rapid transition toward modern, energy-efficient buildings, ensuring a sustainable and prosperous future for all, and MEES are the way to do it.”