Government plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will change our homes. 
 
New technology is creating a web of interconnected challenges and risks. At the same time the UK has the oldest housing stock in Europe. 
 
As we rely more and more on electricity and connectivity there’s a risk that electrical safety won’t be given the attention it deserves as part of the process. 

Recommendations for net zero safety 

A new report from Electrical Safety First (ESF) called Future Homes – Electrical Safety in the Net Zero Home looks at the new technology we are bringing in to our homes and the risks it could represent. The report makes recommendations to improve electrical safety covering four key themes; housing infrastructure, electric vehicles, product safety, and the skills and expertise needed by installers. 
 
From 2025, all new homes should include low carbon heating, efficient insulation, ventilation, lighting and possibly on-site renewable electricity sources, smart technologies and electric vehicle (EV) charging
 
Although renewable electricity sources will be included in new builds, retro-fitting our homes will become increasingly important. Products meeting UK safety standards will be safe in themselves but people might not be aware of how to instal and use the new technology safely. 
 
Key issues included in the report are: 
the urgent need for specialised and certified installers and registered electricians to deliver low carbon solutions 
the need for a consistent approach to installation quality standards and reporting requirements 
the risks that could arise if consumers carry out installations and repairs themselves 
the financial support needed for private homes and rental properties to be safely retrofitted 
lack of awareness of the safety risks and ongoing maintenance requirements of low carbon solutions. 
 

The need for qualified electricians 

Safety risks associated with these new products are significantly reduced when they are properly installed by a competent person. Successfully moving towards net zero will require many more registered electricians who are trained and qualified in the new smart low carbon products and systems, along with other specialised and certified installers. 
 
It’s also important that all the different tradespeople involved are multi-skilled and understand how solutions work together. To maintain standards, they will need to be regularly assessed to confirm they are up to date with the latest products and requirements. 
 
According to the Construction Leadership Council, almost half a million new professionals and trades will be needed to retrofit existing homes to meet the energy performance certificate (EPC) minimum standard of C by 2030
 

What happens next 

A lot of organisations and professions will need to participate in the transition to net zero homes. ESF proposes: 
relevant standards and regulations to protect consumers put in place by local and national government 
manufacturers ensuring new appliances are high quality and meet or exceed the required standards 
installers receive support to specialise, gain certification and maintain their knowledge and skill 
consumers have access to advice and support that will allow them to adapt their porperties safely. 
 
The MSE team can give advice on the latest opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of your home or business premises, so please get in touch. 
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