Home energy and water policy

The issue of energy and water efficiency in both new and existing housing stock is being driven by both central and local government.

Some key policies and local strategies driving energy and water efficiency at a national and local level include:

National Policy

Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) report

The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (HECA) recognises local authorities’ ability to use their position to significantly improve the energy efficiency of all the residential accommodation in their area. In July 2012 the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a requirement under HECA for all local authorities in England to report biennially on the measures they propose to take to achieve this.

This report sets out our current and planned activity to comply with the requirements under the Act.

SAP energy rating and EPCs

The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) energy cost rating is the government's recommended system for energy rating of dwellings.  SAP works by assessing how much energy a dwelling will consume, when delivering a defined level of comfort and service provision. It is based on energy costs for space and water heating under standard occupancy, heating pattern and location using average fuel prices.

The current SAP scale is rated from 1 to 100 - the higher the number the better the performance.

Energy Performance Certificates rate a property’s energy efficiency. Properties rated A are the most efficient, with an SAP rating of 92 or more. Properties rated G are the least efficient, with a rating of 20 or less.

All properties being built, sold or rented must have a certificate with information about its energy, typical energy costs and recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.

The current average SAP score for council owned housing stock is 71 (Band C). The average SAP score for the private sector housing in Cambridge is considerably lower.

For advice on how to improve your home's SAP rating visit the Energy Saving Trust website.

Fuel poverty strategy for England

The UK government published its revised fuel poverty strategy in February 2021.

The document contains a range of policies, activities and proposed funding to, for example, improve energy efficiency standards in fuel poor homes, improve support for fuel poor households, and encourage a fair energy market.

Private rented sector minimum energy efficiency standard

Most privately rented homes are now required to meet a minimum standard of energy efficiency, or they cannot be rented out.

The regulations state that properties must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least an E.

Read the government’s minimum energy efficiency standard guidance for landlords of domestic private rented property. For more information read about their private rented sector energy efficiency regulations consultation.

Local policy

The energy and water efficiency of new homes is driven by planning policy and guidance. The Cambridge Local Plan already secures high standards of energy efficiency. New developments are being built to be water efficient, because of the city’s geographical location and water shortage problems.

The creation of a Greater Cambridge Local Plan includes climate change as a key theme. The plan’s policies will need to contribute to achieving net-zero carbon and living with constraints on resources including water.

Our Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Document provides advice for developers when submitting planning applications. It covers a range of issues including energy and water efficiency. Our Sustainable Housing Design Guide includes high-energy and water efficiency standards for new council homes.

Our Anti-Poverty Strategy states that we will work with partner agencies and community groups to develop sustainable networks to support residents in fuel or water poverty to reduce their energy and water costs.

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