A Building Research Establishment (BRE) report looking at key changes in the UK housing stock shows that carbon dioxide emissions from houses in 1921 were 2.5 times higher than they are today.
BRE has published a report looking at the key changes and
improvements that have been made to the UK's housing stock since 1921.
The report focuses particularly on changes that have had an effect on
standards of living, energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.
"There have been many changes to the UK's housing over the last 90
years," said Janet Utley, one of the authors of the report. "The
increase in amenities [is] one of the most obvious – we would not now
expect to have a house without a bathroom or indoor toilet."
“While some of the changes are entirely what might have been
expected, there are some surprising facts,” added co-author Les
Shorrock. “In particular, the average home in 1921 consumed around
double the energy of the average home now, and carbon dioxide emissions
were almost 2.5 times as high. However, the number of households has
also grown by a factor of about 2.5, so the carbon dioxide emissions of
the entire housing stock are now in fact relatively similar to the
emissions in 1921.”
Other key changes noted in the report include reduced household
sizes, a greater proportion of people owning their own homes, and most
homes being insulated and centrally heated. The increased availability
of electricity has also led to huge growth in the availability and
ownership of a wide range of household electrical appliances. Another reason could be the increased number of people moving away from inefficient and drafty open fires to gas fires or stoves to provide the additional heating, that are increasing in efficiency almost year on year.
The report considers what the housing stock will need to look like in
2050 to meet the UK government’s target to cut carbon dioxide emissions
by 80% on 1990 levels, and the scale of the challenge that this
“What has been achieved in the past is very substantial, but also
provides an important reality check on the feasibility of achieving such
large-scale changes over the next 40 years,” said Shorrock.