A charity has urged the Scottish Government to boost funding to help make homes more energy efficient to £256m a year – more than double its current budget.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said increasing annual funding by £137m from the current total of £119m would be a vital step towards meeting the government’s climate change targets of net zero emissions by 2045.
It said 13% of Scotland’s carbon emissions come from people’s homes.
To reduce that, the Scottish Government’s target is to raise the energy performance of all homes in Scotland to at least a C rating – and a B rating for all social housing – by 2040.
New research by CAS estimates the combined total investment required by the Scottish Government, homeowners and private landlords is likely to be at least £11bn over the next 20 years, or £550m a year.
The charity believes the Scottish Government’s contribution towards this cost should be at least £256m per annum.
CAS spokesman Dr Jamie Stewart said: “We support bold targets on climate change but we want to ensure the cost of meeting those targets don’t fall on those least able to pay.
“That’s why increasing the funding for energy efficiency will help make Scotland’s homes easier to heat and reduce emissions at the same time – it’s win-win.”
He added: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficient Scotland programme as it offers a long-term commitment to address a systemic problem over the next 20 years.
“But despite energy efficiency being designated as a national infrastructure priority four years ago, the amount of central funding available has remained the same.
“Improving energy efficiency of our homes is key to Scotland becoming net-zero but it is vital that the public and specifically those who are fuel poor aren’t hit the hardest by the drives to meet climate targets.”
An energy performance certificate (EPC) is used to rate a property based on its energy efficiency from A (the most efficient) to G (least efficient).
Currently just half of Scottish housing stock is rated C or higher and there are estimated to be 1.42 million properties rated D or below.
CAS said the first aim when it comes to decarbonising heat must be to improve the energy efficiency of homes to lower fuel usage in the first place.
Secondary to this is considering low-carbon heating options like heat pumps to replace traditional fossil fuel heating systems such as gas and oil.
The Scottish Government said a new, legally-binding standard for home energy efficiency from 2024 onwards is being proposed to help tackle climate change and eradicate fuel poverty.
It is launching a consultation seeking views from homeowners on what this standard may look like, and how they can help people meet it.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are facing a global climate emergency and for our part, the Scottish Government is doing all we can to tackle climate change.
“That is why we are supporting homeowners to make their homes warmer and cheaper to heat.
“Social landlords are already making excellent progress towards their energy efficiency target and with this standard, we will help homeowners to do the same.
“By the end of 2021, we will have allocated more than £1bn since 2009 to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency to make homes warmer and cheaper to heat.”