Nearly two thirds of UK homes fail to meet long-term energy efficiency targets, according to data analysed by the BBC. More than 12 million homes fall below the C grade on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) graded from A-G.

It means householders spend more on energy bills and pump tonnes more CO2 into the atmosphere than necessary.

The government has said it needs to go “much further and faster” to improve the energy performance of homes.

Experts say retrofit measures are needed because so many homes were built before the year 1990.

Dr Tim Forman, a research academic at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Sustainable Development, said now only a national project of a scale not seen since World War Two, would be enough to help Great Britain meet its 2050 net zero carbon target, which was signed into law in June 2019.

EPCs measure the efficiency of a house by looking at how well a property is insulated, glazed, or uses alternative measures to reduce energy use.

Homes are given a grade between A and G. The closer to A, the more efficient the home, meaning it should have lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint. A grade G is at the other end of the scale. C is just above average.

The government had set a target to upgrade as many homes to Grade C by 2035 “where practical, cost-effective and affordable”, and for all fuel poor households, and as many rented homes as possible, to reach the same standard by 2030.

Critics, however, say moves towards achieving that have “fallen off a cliff”.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said it was investing “over £6bn” towards those upgrades and it was “also exploring how to halve the cost of retrofitting properties and investing over £320m into helping heat homes with lower carbon alternatives, such as heat networks and heat pumps”.

It highlighted that from April landlords cannot let a rental flat or house in a new tenancy or a renewal unless the property has a grade of E or higher.

The 65.9 million tonnes of CO2 produced by the UK’s homes in 2018, was more than that from power stations which generated our energy supply, according to annual greenhouse gas emissions data.

“We need to throw everything we have at it [energy efficiency],” Dr Forman said. There’s a desperate need to do something, not in 10-15 years, but now.”

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit analysed the grades awarded to more than 19.6 million homes across the UK since their introduction in 2007.

The local authorities across England and Wales with the highest average CO2 emissions per household were all rural areas.

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