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£17.9b revealed as cost of insulating Britain

Environmental group Insulate Britain have blocked junctions of the M25 this week - causing chaos on London’s roads to protest the government’s slow speed in tackling climate change at home.

The group argues that the UK has some of the ‘oldest and most energy-inefficient’ homes, and vows to keep campaigning until the government commits to retrofitting British homes with energy- efficient insulation.

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And whilst the cause is noble, the cost won’t be small. Insulation4less crunched the numbers to reveal that the cost of insulating Britain would be £17.9 billion.


Calculating the Cost of Insulating Britain*

Looking at just the insulation and with the aim of combating energy consumption alone and not converting loft space:

Knauf Earthwool Loft Roll 44 = £5.41 per metre squared + VAT Average attic size UK = 54m2
Average labour cost = £400
Cost per attic = 5.41 x 54 + 400 = £692.14

26 million UK homes needing insulation = £17,995,640,000

Total Cost to Insulate Britain = £17,995,640,000

*Labour costs are estimated figures for loft size averages based on industry knowledge. 26 million homes is the figure listed by the Guardian as the amount in the UK needing to be retrofitted with insulation. It should be noted that this only covers insulation - full retrofitting figures would be even higher.

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Johnpaul Manning, MD of Insulation4Less said:


When people talk about zero emissions, they tend to talk in terms of new inventions. Things like electric cars, which naturally will tackle our carbon footprint. What people tend to miss however is we have a lot of existing infrastructure in the world which isn’t very climate friendly - that includes a lot of our homes. In order to neutralise our home’s impact on climate change, we’re talking about some big structural changes - insulation, triple-glazing, solar panels - for example. Making these changes is what’s called retrofitting, a process to rework existing infrastructure in our homes - ensuring that they admit no greenhouse gases. The plan is that one day, our homes will only use as much energy as they need.

“We don’t want to put off those fighting for the planet’s future - but want to highlight the mammoth scale of the problem and how much work there is left to be done. To insulate the UK alone, which suffers from old fashioned, leaky-energy homes - is going to cost upwards of £17.9 billion. And the sooner we start making these retrofits the better.


Additional Information and Sources:

68 million tonnes of carbon emissions come from our homes, mostly from boilers burning gas for hot water and space heating. That’s 15% of the UK’s total carbon emissions - and more than the agricultural sector at 10%. 


26 million homes will need retrofitting to net zero standard by 2050.

The government has pledged £5 billion to tackle cladding throughout the country, though these

insulation figures suggest that may not be enough.

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