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Session Two: Citizens’ Forum on Climate Change - The Built Environment

Tuesday 1 December 2020


  • Welcome
  • Contracting
  • Discussion – Spreading the word
  • Presentation – Available Technology
  • Topic – The Built Environment
  • Presentation – Retrofitting
  • Exercise – The home/roles for future homes and funding
  • Conclusions and outputs
  • Homework task - Fairness and protecting the vulnerable

Citizens’ Forum on Climate Change Session Two – 1 December 2020

The Built Environment

Following a successful introductory session (27 October 2020) of the forum, which set the foundations for future sessions and gave members the opportunity to interact and agree the best approach for future meetings, this week’s session ‘The Built Environment’ focused on the changes that are needed to home heating and lighting to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

The session opened with a brief recap of the previous session and the agreed way of working together before moving on to a group discussion on how members have been able to engage with others about the forum; with their community, group and/or industry sector.

Members have used various approaches such as, social media, setting up meetings / presenting to groups or simply speaking with their local community/friends network. These interactions lead to a wide range of conversations outside of the forum around grants systems, remote working, new builds and fairness.

Guest speakers Deb and Paul were invited to present to the forum to share their expertise and knowledge on retrofitting. Deb won the Retrofit for the Future Competition and together her and Paul have successfully retrofitted their 1970s bungalow and have cut their energy bills by approximately 60%.

Deb and Paul came up with a plan, summarised below, to retrofit their home. It should be noted that this method is specific to their situation but contains suggestions that could transfer to other style properties:


  • The property was about 45 years old and needed the roof replacing as it was causing damp issues.
  • Foil insulation added to the eaves to prevent draughts.
  • Insulated the back of loft doors and hatches
  • Made sure current loft insulation was the correct thickness


  • Replaced UPVC windows and doors with Argon filled glass – the frames themselves did not need updating as they were already good quality.

Heating System

  • Installed smart heating system
  • Converted open fire to wood burning stove


  • Added extra insulation for external walls (can be done internally or externally)
  • Upgraded to more efficient radiators
  • Added foil sheeting behind radiators
  • Upgraded curtains to thermal insulated curtains
  • Installed wall and ceiling panels in the bathroom


  • Installed under floor insulation
  • Lagged under floor heating pipes
  • Installed thicker underlay

For more detail see Deb’s Retrofit for the Future Competition submission.

Having heard what was possible, and some of the options available for retrofitting, the forum were asked to consider the barriers that could potentially stop people from retrofitting their own home. Some of the outcomes from this are listed below:

Possible Barriers
Lack of correct information Lack of regulation
Fear of being overcharged Reliable tradesmen
Inconvenience / disruption in the home Cost
Not knowing where to start Not owning the house/property
Feeling that technology will change after initial investment Limitations due to age of house
Delay to return on investment Not knowing where to get trusted advice

In general, the main barriers were summarised into 3 main categories:

  1. Information/education
  2. Cost/return on investment
  3. Disruption

The forum then discussed possible ways to remove or limit the barriers:

Shared ownership of the house/property Government to lead and set an example
Stricter building regulation Businesses to bring tech and expertise to the Island
Trusted directory of tradesmen/experts A framework to follow
More educational courses Renewables in all new builds
Awareness campaigns How to/instructions
Loans for energy efficiency stay with the house not with the person A single point for all energy efficiency information
Grading of homes so the those that are proven to be more energy efficient can be worth more Easier to get loans for energy efficiency improvements

To conclude the session the forum considered the role of authorities, government, communities and business could play in energy efficient homes. Debates around community funding, local authorities being able to implement their own renewables, increasing regulation, setting energy standards, capped profit margins on sale of energy efficient technologies and increasing education and skills.

The information outlined above will be shared with the Climate Change Transformation Board at their next meeting and will be used as insight when developing the engagement strategy and ultimately the revised energy efficiency scheme that is in the early planning stages in line with action 4.3 of the Phase One Climate Change Action plan.

Post session task: To give time to reflect, research and to discuss with community/industry groups the forum was asked to consider of the following outside of the normal meeting hours for discussion at the beginning of the next meeting:

  • How can we make sure the changes are fair, and that vulnerable people are protected?
  • Who should fund the changes needed?

Background Information – The Built Environment

Background information is made available to members of the Citizen’s Forum on Climate Change, ahead of sessions, to provide a base-level of knowledge on the subject area as well as useful statistics and definitions/explanations of terms used. Background information is intended to be thought provoking to enable stimulating debate at forum meetings and is not intended to signal a policy direction.

What is this topic about?

This topic focuses on the changes that are needed to the use of heating, hot water and electricity in the home to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

❖ What are the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the home?

At the moment, 34% of greenhouse gas emissions on the Island are emitted by residential homes. This is the largest component of emissions on the Island. The main causes are using fossil fuels (gas, oil and coal) for heating, hot water and cooking;

❖ How is our electricity generated?

At the moment, our electricity is generated by burning gas though the Combined Cycle Gas Turbine station at Pulrose Power Station, or supplied by the UK interconnector when required, or supplied by Diesel Engines as a last resort. The Combined Cycle Gas Turbine and Diesel Engines produce carbon dioxide and they are fossil fuels.

Using electricity to power lights and electrical appliances (e.g. fridges, freezers, dishwashers, tumble dryers, IT equipment, TVs etc) contributes to these carbon dioxide emissions.

❖ What needs to be done to reach net zero emissions?

Homes will need to change in several ways if the Island is to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050:

  • The use of fossil fuels (gas, oil and coal) for heating, hot water and cooking needs to be phased out. It needs to be replaced with energy-efficient, zero-carbon alternatives. These could include efficient electric cookers, and heating systems that use heat pumps powered by electricity or eventually hydrogen.
  • Homes need to be insulated to make them as ‘energy efficient’ as possible, so that they are easier to heat. This can be done through draft proofing and adding loft insulation, insulating walls, and installing high-efficiency glazing. New homes need to be built to very high standards of energy efficiency. Ventilation also needs to be considered properly to reduce heat losses, whilst maintaining good internal air quality.
  • Appliances in the home, such as TVs, computers, washing machines, dishwashers, fridges and other equipment, also need to be more efficient, so they use less electricity.
  • Some equipment can be timed to operate when there is a large amount of electricity available, for example at night. Fridges, washing machines, and some types of heating could be adjusted in this way.
  • People can make changes to the way they live in their homes, including turning lights and appliances off. They can also reduce the temperature that their home is heated at and perhaps wear an extra jumper instead.
  • Electricity should be produced through zero-carbon means (renewable energy or nuclear power as seen in the UK) not through burning coal, oil and gas. Some households may be able to generate their own renewable electricity, using solar panels, for example.

Taking these steps brings benefits to householders beyond reducing emissions. Homes that are better insulated will be cheaper to heat and typically more comfortable. Many people cannot currently afford to heat their homes properly and would benefit from better insulation.

Shifting away from burning fossil fuels in the home will also make the air indoors cleaner, improving health.

Making these changes is not free. It will need investment, although energy-saving saves money in the long-term.

❖ What are the challenges in making these changes?

There are some difficult issues to be addressed in making these changes:

  • The Island has over 35,000 private sector homes and around 6,200 public sector homes. The Isle of Man’s housing is not very energy-efficient. We could have a better record on building or maintaining energy-efficient houses, as they are not as well insulated as some other countries. How can we get better at this?
  • Older buildings (those that are more than a hundred years old – around 25% of all homes) are more difficult to insulate and heat. They need different treatment to newer buildings. This needs to be taken into account.
  • There are lots of different views about the best zero-carbon heating systems. Many think that electric heat pumps are the best solution. Others think that switching from natural gas to hydrogen would be a good way of heating homes. Hydrogen can be generated using renewable energy (sometimes called ‘green hydrogen’), or by stripping the carbon out of fossil gas and carbon capture storage of the carbon dioxide (sometimes called ‘blue hydrogen’). There is broad agreement that we will need different approaches in different places.
  • People will have to make a number of complex and potentially expensive decisions about changing to different heating systems. These decisions will all vary and there won't always be a 'one size fits all' approach as it will depend on what you can afford and other things like the age and efficiency of your home, whether it’s a flat or a house, how you live in your home (social or private renters /homeowners /part own etc).
  • Many changes, like improving energy efficiency, will save money in the long run. However there are costs in the short term. Who should fund energy efficiency measures, and new equipment such as zero-carbon heating systems in the home?
  • Should the government fund, through taxation? Should householders and landlords pay for improvements to their own houses? What if they cannot afford to, or don’t want to pay?

❖ How can these challenges be overcome?

There are various ways to help overcome the challenges listed above

  • Using central government money (the public purse) to provide financial incentives to improve energy efficiency in homes. It could be for all households, or just poorer households;
  • Asking community organisations to provide energy efficiency and/or low carbon heating to householders. Householders could pay for this themselves or via loans, or community shares. Community shares are when people buy shares in a co-operative, which operates on behalf of the community and does not make a profit. (see
  • Requiring Manx Utilities to pay for energy efficiency measures. These costs would typically then be spread across all energy consumers through energy bills.
  • Passing and enforcing laws to ban heating systems that cause a lot of greenhouse gas emissions by a certain date. This would include things like oil and gas boilers (primary heating source in over 95% of homes). The Isle of Man has already announced its intention to ban fossil fuel heating systems in new homes from 2025. No date has been set for fossil fuel heating systems removals in existing properties
  • Passing laws requiring homes to meet a certain standard of energy efficiency if they are going to be let to tenants, or sold. This would mean that you would have to insulate a home if you wanted to sell it, or let it out.
  • In England and Scotland, an Energy Performance Certificate is needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented. This gives you the energy efficiency ratings and suggested actions for improvements. The Isle of Man doesn’t have Energy Performance Certificates.

Many of these options are already in use in England, Wales and Scotland.

❖ What will the Citizen’s forum consider?

Forum members will consider this question:

What mix of government-led, local authority and community action do we want to get our homes to zero-carbon?

This will include:

  • How can we make our homes more energy efficient, and reduce demand for heat and electricity in the home?
  • What role could government, community groups and local authorities play?
  • How can we make sure the changes are fair, and that people are protected?
  • Who could fund the changes?

Some of this information has been sourced from the Climate Change Citizen’s Assembly Resources and their ‘In the Home’ session.