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Two years on and still just over half of homes only meet insulation standards of the 1970s or earlier

Posted April 09, 2024
  • Britain's ageing homes are in urgent need of energy efficiency updates – a new study of 21 million homes finds just over half of English and Welsh homes only meet insulation standards of the 1970s or earlier
  • The average ‘Insulation Age’ of homes across the countries is at least 48 years old, according to the study
  • Energy efficiency measures offer the biggest opportunity to cut household bills, yet despite the energy crisis, only one fifth (19%) of households have updated their insulation measures in the past two years
  • EDF is calling for changes to the Great British Insulation Scheme to help more customers insulate their homes and save cash and carbon.

Britain's ageing housing stock faces an urgent need for energy efficiency upgrades. A new study of over 21 million homes1, in England and Wales, the latest iteration of research first conducted two years ago, revealed that millions still only meet insulation standards of  1976 or earlier, potentially costing their owners hundreds of pounds in wasted energy2.

The study, conducted by EDF in partnership with property data platform Sprift, analysed the current levels of home insulation (including floor, roof, window and wall insulation) against building regulations across different time periods to calculate the nation’s ‘Home Insulation Age’.

Experts analysing 21 million homes found 13,916,843 million properties in England and Wales (55%) only meet the insulation standards of 1976 Building Regulations or earlier. These homes predominantly lose heat through inadequate wall cavity insulation, lack of double glazing, insufficient loft insulation and poor floor insulation; all features that modern regulations specify today.

The study found there has been a small improvement in the nation’s home insulation standards over the past two years, with 18% of properties now having an insulation age of 2002 or younger compared to 8% in 2022. However, most of this improvement comes from newer properties, built since 2022 which are required to meet new regulatory insulation standards.

Despite the overall improvement, the average household is living with insulation standards dating back 48 years, with 41% (6,291,448 homes) living in properties that meet the insulation standards set in 1976.

Research commissioned by EDF3 amongst 2,000 UK homeowners to support the study found that among those who have not upgraded their insulation, 32% cite cost as the primary barrier, while 17% prefer to spend their money elsewhere and 14% are unsure about the type of insulation needed. Additionally, 76% of those who have made improvements since 2020 attribute their actions to the volatility of the energy market over the past three years and concerns regarding potential price increases.

Whilst prices are coming down, energy bills remain on average 56% higher than they were pre-energy crisis, so improving energy efficiency through insulation measures offers one of the biggest opportunities to cut household bills. Yet, two thirds (61%) of respondents are unaware of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of their home and nearly a fifth (18%) of homeowners have no knowledge about the various insulation methods available to enhance energy efficiency.

The desire to reduce energy bills is the main driver for almost two thirds (69%) of those that have thought about updating, or have already updated, their home insulation, whilst one third (34%) have improved their home energy efficiency because they feel it is better for the environment.

The average semi-detached homeowner could save up to £235 a year4 if they upgraded their cavity-wall insulation, £2255 by having a well-insulated loft, or £3156 a year if they updated their solid wall insulation. 

The Great British Insulation Scheme and ECO schemes both help eligible customers insulate their homes and bring down their energy bills permanently. EDF is playing a leading role in the Government's Great British Insulation Scheme (GBIS), having installed over 50% of measures across all suppliers as part of the scheme.  

Philippe Commaret, Managing Director for Customers at EDF commented: “It’s clear from this research that, despite the energy crisis, little progress has been made in improving the energy efficiency of older homes in the past two years, meaning millions of homeowners are missing out on significant savings on their energy bills. Our ongoing efforts to support and improve crucial initiatives such as the Great British Insulation Scheme will help empower customers to embrace energy efficiency so they can save both cash and carbon.”

With three-quarters (74%) of the population stating that they would welcome government support schemes to help improve the energy efficiency of their properties, EDF is seeking to extend the benefits of the GBIS scheme to more households by calling on the Government for improvements, such as:

  • Allowing the installation of more than one measure. Currently only one measure per home is allowed. Allowing multiple measures in homes that require them would help customers lower customers energy bills and carbon footprint, as well as reducing the costs of delivering the scheme.
  • Including heating control measures e.g. room thermostats, as a secondary measure for all customer groups (currently only delivered within the ‘low income group’). Heating controls are cost effective to install and can bring a big benefit on bill and usage reduction for households. 
  • Extending the scheme eligibility to include Council Tax Band E homes in England, which would bring in scope an additional 2.4 million homes – representing an extra 10% of all homes in England. Currently the eligibility criteria is Council Tax Bands A-D. This could open up much needed support to customers, including those on low incomes, struggling with the cost of heating a larger home.

For further information about how EDF is helping insulate British homes, and to see if you’re eligible to apply for ECO4 or The Great British Insulation Scheme, please visit:

A breakdown of the Home Insulation Ages across England and Wales can be found in an interactive infographic here: 

For more information contact:

EDF Press Office:

Notes to Editors

  1. Data:
    • The Sprift Insulation Age looks at many aspects of a property and applies insights to determine an overall score and insulation age for each property. The insulation age bands reflect significant changes in UK building regulations over the past half-century and more.
    • This full data set considers all properties with a valid EPC in England and Wales at 31/01/24, a total of 25,167,420 properties.
    • To note there is no data for 254,472 properties - homes where there no data is where the home age has not been entered into the EPC rating.
  3. Research conducted by OnePoll of 2,000 UK Adults who own their home, rent, or live in social housing between 14th and 19th March 2024

About EDF

EDF is helping Britain achieve Net Zero by leading the transition to a cleaner, low emission, electric future and tackling climate change. It is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity(1) and supplies millions of customers with electricity and gas.

It generates low carbon electricity from five nuclear power stations and more than thirty onshore wind farms and two offshore wind farms.

EDF is leading the UK's nuclear renaissance with the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, and there are advanced plans for a replica at Sizewell C in Suffolk. Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C will provide low carbon electricity to meet 14% of UK demand and power around 12 million homes.

EDF is one of the UK’s largest investors in renewables, with more than 1.5GW of renewable generation in operation and almost 14GW in planning and development across a range of technologies including onshore and offshore wind, solar and battery storage. We are constructing our largest offshore wind farm in Britain – the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe project in Scotland.

EDF is helping its customers, both in business and at home, take their first steps to sustainably powering their lives. Whether it is buying an electric car, generating and storing electricity, selling energy back to the grid or installing a heat pump. EDF is one of the largest suppliers to British business and a leading supplier of innovative energy solutions that are helping businesses become more energy independent. In addition, the company’s energy services business, Dalkia, is one of the largest technical service providers in the UK and Ireland.

EDF is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. In the UK, the company employs around 14,000 people at locations across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

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