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Went live onTitleReference
7 Mar 2012The 40% house shows how to use 60% less energy in the homeSID0012
This project demonstrated how to reduce residential energy use by 60%. Media coverage and citation in other reports helped the findings reach a large audience.
The 40% House project collated research into a report that demonstrated how to cut the UK's residential energy use by 60% of carbon emissions before 2050. This was the level or carbon reduction recommended in a report by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution to avoid significant climate change.

The NERC-supported Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research funded this study, which focused on making deep cuts in carbon emissions while meeting household energy needs. Domestic energy use is an important issue as it represents almost a third of the UK's energy. The research emphasises the importance of retrofitting existing homes for greater energy efficiency.

'Since 2005 is there has been a general realisation that [the need for] CO2 emissions reduction in the housing sector essentially puts a strong focus on energy demand reduction in existing homes, rather than newly built ones,' explains Dr Gavin Killip, who was part of the 40% house team. It is now understood that to meet CO2 targets, a massive retrofitting programme would be required. 'That central insight can be traced back to the small media storm that followed the 40% House report launch,' Killip says.

Researchers examined different ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. They also examined the changes policymakers and industry needed to make to achieve the reduction. The study took two and a half years, and included investigations into renewable energies, the potential for more efficient appliances, householder views and the effect of climate change on future energy consumption.

It is part of a large body of scenarios for future energy use that have helped us to understand the actions needed to meet CO2 reduction targets, and increased understanding of the important interdependencies across sectors such as domestic electricity, heating and manufacturing.

This understanding needed to be communicated to a wider audience. NERC also funded a booklet explaining the research outcomes as well as a launch conference for policy makers, architects, planners, white-goods manufacturers and energy providers. This was through NERC's Knowledge Exchange Call.

Research from the 40% house project was included in a 'Housing Energy Factfile' prepared for the Department for Energy and Climate Change. It has also been used by the Sustainable Development Commission, the Federation of Master Builders, Green Alliance, WWF and Friends of the Earth.

40% House has been represented at over 25 events including industry conferences. It was featured in BBC2's 'The Money Programme' in an episode entitled 'The Real Cost of Going Green.' The findings generated a great deal of media interest, and were covered by the Guardian, the BBC and the Daily Telegraph and featured in the New Statesman.

The report, and later scenarios using similar techniques, has led to further research on the implications of such scenarios in the real world. For example, an EPSRC-funded project is comparing professional practice in low-energy housing refurbishment between the UK and France. As Dr Killip states, 'I doubt that project would have come about without the intellectual development that has 40% House in its lineage.'
Impact evidenceOne of a number of scenarios and reports that has led to the acceptance of the importance of retrofitting - this probably had the widest media coverage and citations in other reports.
Research and funding
Funding typeResponsive Mode
Researchers at Universities
Grant referenceNE/C508542/1   
InvestigatorDr B BoardmanUniversity of Oxford, Environmental Change Institute SoGE
Research and Collaborative Centres
CentreTyndall Centre
Science themesClimate system, Sustainable use of natural resources, Technologies
Science areasAtmospheric