Footprint carries the story of another PassivHaus retrofit costing £200,000. All part of the Technology Strategy Board's Retrofit for the Future strategy. 86 projects up and down the land, each funded in this ludicrous way, proving absolutely nothing at all, except that it costs more to retrofit an existing house properly than it does to rebuild it.
The whole scheme is an embarrassment and I am surprised that anyone is brave enough to court publicity for their endeavours. Long before this scheme was first dreamt up, we knew the answer. Yes, it's difficult but not impossible to retrofit existing houses to these incredible standards but, no, we can't afford it.
The question should be what can we afford? Or, to put it another way, what standard of retrofit should we roll out? At the other end of the spectrum, we have the Green Deal taxiing for take-off, looking hopelessly lightweight. A Green Deal retrofit (cost around £6,000) will save householder's very little energy: it will simply make their homes more comfortable. Most homes these days are a hotch-potch of warm spots and cold spots, heated rooms and unheated rooms, times of the day when the temperatures are comfortable and other times when they are not. We juggle with our central heating controls in a futile attempt to balance comfort against cost.
The Fuel Poverty standards don't help: Adequate warmth is generally defined to be 21°C in the main living room and 18°C in other occupied rooms during daytime hours. Very few people now have the wherewithal to meet these supposed World Health Organisation standards, and we don't have enough money to be able to get to everyone to these standards, and we should stop pretending we do. The higher we set the hurdle, the less homes we will be able to treat.
We need an adult debate about just what is affordable, and how much comfort we can deliver. There must be a sweet spot between the T-shirt slouching 21°C suggested by the Fuel Poverty standards and the mould-inducing 12°C where things start to get genuinely ugly. What is the average internal British house temperature in January? What should it be? Big policy questions currently not even being asked, let alone answered.