Election 2024: Which party can solve the home energy efficiency crisis?

On 4 July, the UK will embark on a new course to deliver the promises made in the winning party’s manifesto. But first, the country must decide which party will deliver for them.

colourful houses in England

One of the most pressing issues facing voters is the home energy efficiency crisis. With energy costs still at historic highs and climate change already impacting our weather systems, improving the energy efficiency of our homes (responsible for 21% of UK greenhouse gas emissions) has never been more important.

In this article, we’ll look at how each major party aims to address the home energy crisis, whether their plans are realistic and if what they’re promising will be enough.

What are the parties promising?


  • Invest £6 billion over three years to make a million homes warmer
  • Introduce an Energy Efficiency Voucher Scheme for every household in England to help install energy efficiency measures
  • Change planning rules to make it easier for solar panels to be installed on rooftops and brownfield sites (land that was previously developed)


  • Invest £13 billion over five years to upgrade the energy efficiency of five million homes
  • Introduce a Warm Homes Plan to provide grants and low interest loans for home energy efficiency measures such as installing solar panels
  • Work closely with the private sector to provide further private finance to accelerate home upgrades and low carbon heating
  • Ensure homes in the private rented sector meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2030

Liberal Democrats

  • Introduce a Home Energy Upgrade programme that provides free insulation and heat pumps for low-income households
  • Expand incentives for households to install solar panels, and guarantee a fair price for electricity sold back to the grid
  • Providing incentives for installing heat pumps that cover the real costs
  • Reintroduce requirements for landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties to EPC C or above by 2028
  • Introduce an Energy-Saving Homes scheme including tax incentives, loans, grants, advice and support

Reform UK

  • Scrap Net Zero and related subsidies


  • Invest £29bn over five years to insulate homes to EPC B standard within 10 years (£12bn for social housing and £17bn as grants for privately owned homes)
  • Invest £9bn over five years for heating systems such as heat pumps
  • Invest £7bn over five years to prevent homes over-heating in summers
  • Introduce a Fairer, Greener Homes Guarantee to ensure warmer homes
  • Introduce a local-authority led, street-by-street home insulation programme
  • Increase the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard for landlords to EPC C

Scottish National Party

  • Combine the Warm Home Discount and Energy Company Obligation to create a single fuel poverty scheme

Plaid Cymru

  • Introduce a long-term retrofit plan involving government support
  • Invest in developing a skilled retrofit workforce

Are their promises achievable?

All the parties claim that their plans are fully costed - i.e. they know what each plan will cost to deliver, and they’re confident they can raise the money necessary to fund them. We’re not accountants, so we’ll have to take them at their word.

Instead, we’ll focus on whether their plans are achievable.  


The Conservatives plan to make a million homes warmer within three years. This would require insulating or retrofitting over 333,000 homes per year, which is a huge increase from current rates. Just 190,000 installations were completed in the 12 months up to May 2024.1

Previous large-scale insulation schemes struggled to meet similar targets. For example, the Green Homes Grant, launched in 2020, aimed to improve 600,000 homes but was scrapped in 2021 after reaching just 10% of its goal.2

Scaling up a trained workforce of installers to meet the 333,000 per year target sounds similarly ambitious. There’s already a shortage of heat pump installers, with just 3,000 currently working in the UK. And experts estimate that 27,000 installers will be needed by 2028 to meet the government’s existing targets.3

Changing planning rules to make it easier to install solar panels sounds the most achievable element of the Conservatives’ plan. Recently, Scotland updated its Town and Country Planning Order to make it easier for homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. There’s no reason the UK government couldn’t do something similar.


Labour wants to update the energy efficiency of five million homes. It’s unclear whether this target is to be reached within their £13-billion-over-five-years funding commitment. If it is, they’re setting themselves up for a major challenge.

Retrofitting five million homes may not require fitting major installations such as heat pumps and solar panels to each one, but could be achieved with smaller improvements such as loft insulation and smart meters. Even then, upgrading five million homes in five years would require retrofitting 1 million homes a year - nearly three times as many as the Conservative Party aims for in their manifesto. So Labour would face similar challenges in terms of scaling up a trained workforce and the supply chain.

Labour’s plan to work with the private sector to secure new finance products could help increase homeowner demand, but this approach has already been tried with minimal impact. A recent survey found that just 14% of people buying or remortgaging their home were offered green mortgages.4 To make this work, Labour will not only need to incentivise more financial providers to provide green products, but they’ll also have to improve consumer awareness - 69% of respondents said they hadn’t heard of a green mortgage.

Their commitment to improving energy efficiency standards in the private sector by 2030 is a longer-term goal that seems more achievable, but we’ll have to wait for details about how they plan to do this.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems haven’t announced funding pledges or put targets against their pledges, so it’s hard to know whether their promises are achievable.

Providing free insulation and heat pumps for low-income households would be a welcome improvement on the current support available. Although limited details about the Home Energy Upgrade programme are provided, it sounds similar to the Green Homes Grant, which ended in 2022 after massively missing its targets. To avoid a similar fate, the ‘Democrats would need to address the shortage of skilled installers and increase awareness amongst homeowners - something none of the major parties have addressed in their manifestos.

Similarly, the promise of guaranteeing a fair price for solar electricity sold back to the grid is a throwback to the previous Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme which was hugely successful in incentivising the uptake of solar panels. Ultimately, the FiT was deemed too expensive to maintain and was replaced in 2019 by the more affordable Smart Export Guarantee scheme. If the Lib Dems’ plan to fund the incentives with government money, they’ll need to ensure the scheme is sustainable over the long-term to ensure public confidence.

It’s hard to assess how achievable their plans for heat pump incentives and Energy-Saving Homes scheme are without knowing the scale of their ambition, but reintroducing minimum EPC requirements for landlords should be easily achievable since it was Conservative government policy until last year. Whether or not all landlords can upgrade their properties by the 2028 deadline is another story, as it will depend on the support they’re given.

Reform UK

Reform believes that the UK has invested too heavily in Net Zero measures and plans to “scrap Net Zero and related subsidies.” Although the party hasn’t provided specifics, this could include home energy efficiency grants like the ‍Great British Insulation Scheme which provides free or subsidised insulation.

Reform argues that Net Zero policies are increasing energy bills and creating poverty. So rather than continue to invest in energy efficiency measures to combat climate change, they plan to focus on other environmental measures such as planting trees, increasing recycling and reducing single-use plastics.

Without further detail on their home energy efficiency plans, it’s hard to say whether they’re achievable.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Green party has the most ambitious targets for home energy efficiency. Some initiatives aren’t seen in other parties’ manifestos, such as investment to prevent homes over-heating in summers and plans for a street-by-street home insulation programme. But like others, it faces the same challenges in implementing its plans.

Delivering on its £29 billion plan to upgrade homes to an EPC B standard within 10 years would require a large and skilled installer workforce. It would take considerable time and investment to grow this workforce to an adequate level to deal with the 8 million homes in England alone that are currently rated worse than EPC C.5

Plans to roll out its insulation programme on a local-authority level sound positive, as this would potentially allow each region to tailor their approach to their specific circumstances. But it could also pose a challenge in ensuring consistent standards across the country.

Scottish National Party

Despite being one of the more progressive constituents of the UK when it comes to home energy efficiency (see Scotland’s new Planning Order), the SNP haven’t included any country-wide home efficiency policies in their manifesto.

For venerable households, the party's plans to combine the Warm Home Discount and Energy Company Obligation to create a single fuel poverty scheme look interesting. However, both schemes are currently run at national UK level (by DESNZ and Ofgem, respectively) and the SNP's plans would depend on Scotland gaining independence which isn’t guaranteed.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru's plans are vague, but they’re on the right track. We’ve previously spoken about the need for a long-term retrofit plan longer than a five-year government term, which Plaid appear to want to deliver. And unlike others, Plaid is the only party to address developing a skilled retrofit workforce. But without further detail, it’s hard to say whether their plans are achievable.

Are their promises enough?

Manifestos are typically full of ambitious goals, and it’s positive to see home energy efficiency getting the attention it deserves. But do the promises go far enough?

Certainly, homeowners need financial help installing big-budget items such as heat pumps and solar panels if we’re to accelerate the pace of reaching Net Zero. But financial incentives are just part of the story. We need more trained installers, as Plaid Cymru have pointed out. 3,000 heat pump installers are struggling to meet the country’s humble demands now, and many more will need to be trained to meet many of the parties’ ambitions. It’s crucial that this is addressed if installation targets are to be met.

None of the manifestos mentioned support for the 500,000+ listed buildings in the UK. These buildings are often the draftiest and most expensive properties to heat due to a lack of adequate insulation and modern heating systems.  

There’s also a notable absence of plans to educate people on home energy efficiency and increase awareness of the benefits and options available to them. Awareness and understanding are crucial for driving demand. Without it, the chance of any party meeting its targets will be hindered.

Short-term thinking is perhaps an inevitable result of a political system that holds elections every five years, but we’d like to have seen the parties set out long-term ambitions (Plaid Cymru were close but didn’t provide any detail). The scale of updating the UK’s housing stock - one of the poorest insulated in the developed world - requires a strategy far longer-term than 2030. And we’ve seen before how short-term policy decisions, such as the short-lived Green Homes Grant can damage peoples’ confidence and hamper the uptake of energy efficiency measures.

Whichever party gets into power will have a mammoth job ahead of them to address the home energy efficiency crisis the UK is currently facing. Only with adequate funding, consistent policy and long-term planning will they have a good chance of meeting their goals.

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