Addressing fuel poverty in Scotland’s traditional homes

Sarah Speirs
Sarah Speirs

Tackling poor maintenance in traditional buildings could significantly reduce fuel poverty, experts are to advise the Scottish Government today.

At an event entitled ‘Addressing Fuel Poverty in Traditional Buildings’, a group of experts will inform MSPs about an initiative to reduce fuel poverty, which already affects 27 per cent of Scottish households.

Poor energy efficiency is a key factor in fuel poverty. Buildings that are poorly maintained are more likely to suffer from poor energy efficiency, and it’s a stark reality that an estimated 92 per cent of Scottish buildings constructed before 1919 need repair.

The initiative being put forward is an in-depth survey of residential buildings that would establish more clearly the links between energy efficiency and property condition, in particular causes of drafts and dampness inside buildings. The outcomes of the survey would help homeowners prioritise repairs to keep their properties adequately maintained, and would assist Scottish Government in producing suitable advice and encouragement.

Emily Tracey from the BGS Building Stones team, who is one of the experts presenting at today’s event, said: “Nearly half a million Scottish homes were constructed before 1919, and many have not been adequately maintained. Traditional homes can be made more energy efficient, often through relatively easy and minor interventions. The first step in tackling fuel poverty should be to keep properties well maintained, making sure they are wind and water tight. Clear information about the links between property maintenance and energy efficiency, and sound advice about appropriate repairs, would help homeowners achieve this goal.”

The day of Parliamentary events begins at 12:45pm with Emily Tracey (BGS), Chiara Ronchini (ICOMOS-ISCES) and Jamie Baker (East Lothian Council) delivering presentations about fuel poverty and traditional buildings to the Cross Party Group for Construction in the Scottish Parliament.

At 5pm Nigel Don MSP will submit a motion for debate on the Parliament floor looking at the same issues. The presenters believe support here is vital if Scottish Government is to achieve its aim “to ensure that by November 2016, so far as is reasonably practicable, people are not living in fuel poverty in Scotland”.

Sarah Speirs, director RICS Scotland, said: “RICS welcomed the Scottish Government’s ‘Sustainable Housing Strategy’, and we have worked with Government Ministers and Officials in making the strategy’s ambitious vision a reality. We are committed to ensuring that traditional buildings are given equal attention to other housing types, such as new builds, when we consider energy efficiency measures. RICS endorses action that addresses poor housing conditions and makes a priority of suitable repairs and maintenance undertaken by regulated professionals.”

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