How triple glazing can contribute to the 2050 target

There has been so much talk about the positive impacts of triple glazing in the media lately that the argument for upgrading is compelling. But it is important to understand why there is such a spotlight on triple glazing as an energy saving measure for UK households.

Kyoto Protocol

The first point to look at, is the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits State Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the premise that (a) global warming exists and (b) human-made CO2 emissions have caused it. source

The United Kingdom signed up to the Kyoto Protocol in 1995 and in 2008, passed the Climate Change Act. The act established a framework to develop an economically credible emissions reduction path. The act further emphasized the UK as a global leader in the fight against climate change and its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. source

The Climate Change Act is a vast document highlighting a series of commitments to tackle the various factors surrounding global warming. A few points to note:


2050 Target:

the act commits to reduce the UK’s 1990 carbon emission levels by at least 80% by 2050.


Carbon Budgets:

carbon budgets are caps placed on emitted greenhouse gases in the UK over a 5-year period. The caps are based on the most cost-effective paths to achieving the long-term carbon emissions reduction goals. The fourth budget has already been put in place and runs up to 2027.


Committee On Climate Change (CCC):

This group advice the government on policy and progress made in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.


National Adaptation Plan:

this plan requires the government to do full risk-assessments, plan strategy to avert these risks and encourage critical organizations to do the same.

The CCC has been very important in driving policy home and has determined that there are a number of ways in which the consumer can use energy more efficiently.

“There will always be a demand for energy, but the way we use it, and the amount we use, needs to change”

In their 2015 Progress Report to Parliament, the committee made recommendations for the implementation of the Zero Carbon Homes standard, investment in low-carbon heat and the promotion of passive cooling and heating.

The Zero Carbon Home

The Zero Carbon Home policy was first announced in 2006 by the chancellor at the time, Gordon Brown. The policy stated that all new homes built from 2016 onwards, would have to generate enough energy on-site through renewable resources like wind turbines and solar power, to sustain its heating, hot water, lighting and ventilation. Off-grid and self-sustaining, these homes of the future were guaranteed to reduce the nearly 30% contribution housing makes to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

This ambitious plan, as part of the Housing and Planning Bill, was finally scrapped by parliament in July 2015, to a massive outcry from the homebuilding and environmental communities alike. An amendment to the bill was passed in May 2016, calling for “all new homes in England built from 1 April 2018 achieve the carbon compliance standard”.

According to the Department of Communities and Local Government, the argument for the scrapping of the bill was “We are already building some of the most energy efficient homes in the world. Our current standards are tough and already have the full support of the industry.”

For the 2050 targets to be met however, domestic emissions have to be reduced by 3% each year, according to the CCC. But due to an increasing population and a falling household size, there could be 23% more households by 2050, resulting in a 23% increase in energy consumption. ( source ) The need for a more sustainable way of building energy efficient homes is therefore not only essential, it is crucial.

A widely adapted standard for energy efficient building, is the Passivhaus standard.

The Passivehaus Standard

"A Passivhaus is a building in which thermal comfort can be achieved solely by post-heating or post-cooling the fresh air flow required for a good indoor air quality, without the need for additional recirculation of air."

- Passivhaus Institut (PHI)

The Passivhaus Standard was developed in Germany and is an approach to construction that produces highly energy efficient buildings. The standard can be applied to residential homes, schools, commercial buildings and factories. While it is mostly used for new buildings, it has also been successfully implemented as retro-fit projects.

Passivhaus buildings are highly insulated and air-tight. This allows the building to get most of its internal heat through sunlight, body heat from inhabitants and heat generated by appliances, with only a small supplementary conventional heating system.
Because of the superior insulation requirements of the building, the walls are much thicker than standard walls and the windows are triple glazed. This prevents air leaks and thermal bridges where heat can escape to the outside.

These buildings are extremely comfortable to live and work in, with consistent temperatures throughout and maximum levels of natural light.

While the construction costs of Passivhaus buildings are higher than traditional buildings, their operational costs (heating, cooling and lighting) are up to 80% less.

Because the Passivhaus standard has not yet been adopted by local authorities as part of their Building Regulations, councils require standard building permissions on top of Passivhaus certification. Visit Passivhaus UK for more information.

Small Changes, Big Impact

Building a new home or having major renovations done to an existing home are not the only solutions to achieve domestic energy efficiency.


Badly insulated homes lose massive amounts of heat through walls, roofs and windows. Draught proofing your home and insulating water pipes can save you £50 per year; increasing the insulation in the ceiling of your home can save £25, and insulating cavity walls can put up to £150 per year back in your pocket.


Turning down the thermostat on your boiler by 1 degree could reduce your annual energy bill by £50 per year while replacing it with an energy efficient model saves another £35.

Appliances and Lighting

Massive strides have been made in the energy efficiency of household appliances and lamps. By replacing old models with energy efficient ones and using CFL’s in your light fittings, you could save another £85 per year.

Double to Triple Glazing

Double glazing was a great improvement on single glazing, reducing heat loss through windows to 22%. Triple glazing further reduces that heat loss by 50% which results in a cost saving of up to £100 annually.

With an overall energy cost saving of £495, the average household can greatly benefit from reducing its carbon footprint through these energy saving measures.

Funding and Grants

While government has stopped the funding of domestic upgrades through its Green Deal financing initiative in 2015, there are still grants available for upgrades in certain areas.

Energy Company Obligation

The Energy Company Obligation or ECO is a UK government energy efficiency scheme set up to help reduce carbon emissions and assist in fuel poverty. ECO facilitates the installation of energy efficient measures in British homes through large energy suppliers. Each obligated supplier has an overall target based on its current market share, and the scheme is aimed at particular groups of people. Obligated suppliers include companies like British Gas, npower, E.On Energy and others. The support isn’t cash-related but rather comes in the form of energy suppliers working with installers to introduce energy efficient measures.

There are 3 ECO obligations:


The Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation (HHCRO) or Affordable Warmth Obligation requires suppliers to promote the installation of heating qualifying actions to people receiving certain benefits and who live in private domestic premises.


The Carbon Saving Community Obligation (CSCO) requires suppliers to promote installation of insulation measures and connections to district heating systems for areas of low income, people receiving certain benefits and living in private domestic premises, and vulnerable households in rural areas.


The Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO) requires suppliers to promote primary measures, including roof and wall insulation and connections to district heating systems. Other secondary measures, which improve the insulating properties of premises, can also be installed in these same properties.

To qualify for CERO and CSCO, you must live in your own home or social housing. To qualify for HHCRO, you must own your home or be a tenant in the private rental sector and have the home owner’s permission.

To find out how you may benefit from ECO support, you can contact any of the obligated suppliers.

Published on : 13th October 2016

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