If you are like me or one of the many millions confined to their homes during lockdown, your thoughts have, no doubt, turned at some point to those nagging DIY repairs or home improvement jobs. A cursory walk around the neighbourhood (during my once per day exercise) reveals a higher than average number of skips outside houses, full of garden and household waste.
Data from home improvement stores suggests that in the period prior to lockdown, sales of paint and wallpaper were up considerably and I am sure that, like me, you will have seen news stories about queues at DIY stores these past few weeks.
One thought running through my mind is ‘could the current confinement and prospect (unfortunately) that we might all be spending a little more time in our homes over the next year or so provide an opportunity for the heating and energy efficiency sector?’ With a little extra nudge from government, could we persuade homeowners to go beyond décor improvements and make practical improvements to their heating systems or energy efficiency of their home? This in turn could help with kick-starting the post lockdown economy.
The International Energy Agency would certainly seem to agree that investing in buildings could help with economic recovery. In a paper published earlier this month  the IEA commented that ‘’energy efficiency offers win-win opportunities as they tend to be labour-intensive projects that start quickly and are rooted in local supply chains such as construction and manufacturing. Putting such projects in stimulus programmes can support existing workforces and create new jobs’’
The UK Government would appear to think so too. On 28th April a consultation was published setting out proposals for a £4,000 grant scheme for heat pump and biomass schemes which would be introduced in March 2022 and designed to phase out high carbon fossil fuels (coal and oil) off the gas grid. Support was also announced for biomethane producers to inject green gas into the grid.
The support for low carbon heat is welcome, however, arguably more eye catching, was the reference in the consultation document to the Conservative Manifesto commitment of £9bn funding for home energy efficiency. Surely the case has never been stronger for this funding to be brought forward. A wave of professionally installed energy efficiency improvements and replacement of older inefficient boilers, starting as soon as it is safe to do so, could deliver a major short-term boost to the economy and lock in some long-term benefits for consumers and the planet.