Home owners may be forced to upgrade their poorly insulated homes before selling

The owners of more than a million poorly insulated homes may be forced to upgrade them before they can be sold to help to meet the government’s climate change targets.

The Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government on the targets, is calling for urgent action to reduce the amount of energy wasted in homes. It says in a report that government policies set out last year in the clean growth strategy are inadequate to meet the UK’s legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It wants the government to try to give homeowners incentives to invest in better insulation but to make it compulsory if take-up is low. The incentives could include low-interest-rate loans or discounts on stamp duty if a home is upgraded soon after being sold.

The policy would apply to at least 1.2 million homes that are in the bottom two bands, F and G, for energy efficiency. Owners would be required to upgrade them to at least band E.

Heating a band G property can cost more than £1,000 a year more than a band E home. The government is already targeting landlords who rent band F and G homes, requiring them to spend £2,500 on energy efficiency measures.

David Joffe, the committee’s head of carbon budgets, said that it was best to target properties being sold because they were often upgraded at that time anyway.

The cost of improvements ranges from £300 for loft insulation to £14,000 for external wall insulation for older properties built without cavity walls.

The committee also calls for tougher energy efficiency standards for new homes and says that some have been poorly built and use more energy than the housebuilders claim.

In addition, the committee calls for 55 million trees to be planted in England by 2025, five times more than the government has pledged to plant by 2020, to help to suck carbon from the atmosphere as well as reduce the risk from flooding linked to climate change.

It says 60 per cent of new cars and vans should be electric by 2030, compared with less than 5 per cent now.