With the cost of energy spiralling, many families will struggle to heat their homes this winter. We need to urgently tackle this problem at the source by insulating cold and draughty homes around Britain, potentially cutting hundreds of pounds from the average household energy bill.
British homes are notoriously draughty, cold and damp, which leads to higher bills: with £1 in every £4 spent on heating wasted because it leaks out of our poorly insulated homes. Retrofitting homes, which means upgrading them to be more energy efficient, will cut bills, cut our emissions, and protect us against future price rises.
We need to make and win the case for ensuring every family has a warm home. That's why our members are backing The Great Homes Upgrade, a campaign to upgrade 19 million homes by 2030 - starting right now.
The Great Homes Upgrade is a campaign to get the government to upgrade the millions of cold and leaky homes in the UK.
The campaign brings together a coalition of diverse organisations from civil society (trade unions, faith organisations, climate justice groups), the state (MPs, metro mayors, council leaders) and businesses (retrofitting organisations, green technology firms) that are campaigning for a national retrofit programme. We are asking councillors, members of parliament, activists and – most importantly – communities to join the campaign.
'Retrofitting’ simply means upgrading an existing building to be more energy efficient. That includes finding ways to make it leak less energy, like better insulation and double/triple-glazed windows; and replacing dirty fossil-fuel heating, like gas boilers with clean alternatives like heat pumps.
We need immediate action to help people with their energy bills, which can and must include cash support. But we don't just want to help people reduce their bills now, we want them to have lower bills in the future too. Reducing your bills by reducing how much energy we waste doesn't just help those struggling with the cost-of-living crisis: it reduces our emissions, creates jobs, and improves our health by ensuring we aren't living in draughty, damp housing.
There are already many amazing co-operatives working to retrofit homes: the brilliant Carbon Co-op for example is a supporter of the Great Homes Upgrade. Upgrading millions of homes will create thousands of jobs, and we want to see those jobs created in the co-operative sector so that workers and communities benefit. A regional network of retrofit co-ops are the way residents can have a stake in the solution, avoiding the pitfalls of previous national schemes that often used large contractors with many sub-contractors, such as in Preston where over 300 homes were affected with mould and damp after poorly-fitted insultation through a national scheme.
The Great Homes Upgrade campaign has produced a campaign toolkit, which is a guide on how to make and win the case for a national retrofit programme in your community. The first step in their guide is finding or creating a Great Homes Upgrade group in your community: we're lucky enough to already have incredible, organised groups in our communities via our Co-operative Party branches. So if you're a Co-op Party member, why not download the toolkit and run a Great Homes Upgrade campaign meeting at your next branch meeting?
Hold a "Great Homes Upgrade" meeting at your Co-op Party Branch to make a plan for your community.
Talk to people in your area: canvas, hold street stalls, and get people from your community involved.
Work with your local council, get your local MP involved and keep building pressure.
For more information, visit the Great Homes Upgrade campaign website.