Energy efficiency is focus of the Coalition's Green Deal
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2010 at 9:09 am
Domestic insulation is top of Chris Huhne's plans for A Green Deal for housing he said yesterday at the Economist UK Energy Summit. He also touched on the (much awaited) renewable heat incentive as he revealed measures in the pipeline from the self-acclaimed "greenest government ever". To summarise, he said:
- On the near horizon, energy saving will mean smart meters and smart grids that can give consumers control over their appliances - for example ensuring that fridges power down during temporary price surges. But that will take time to develop.
- Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, is moving quickly to toughen building standards.
- The Green Deal will be DECC’s flagship bill for this first session. Its aim is a radical overhaul of our existing homes to save energy, carbon and costs.
- There are up to 14 million homes in the UK which could benefit from insulation under the Green Deal. DECC is working on the package for each home, which could "unlock tens of billions of spending in the coming years". It might also help drive economic recovery. The aim is that every participating householder will save money by insulating their home.
- Energy companies and high street stores will pay for the work upfront, and householders will then pay back over time on their energy bills from the energy savings they make.
- The fuel-poor, and those in hard-to-heat homes lacking cavity walls, will get extra help which will be provided by refocusing the obligations on energy companies. Local authorities could also join with energy companies to reach those who live in houses that need it most. Insulation measures are often cheaper if implemented a street at a time.
- A competitive market will provide best value and confidence in products for the customer. With professional marketing from trusted brands, we ought to make energy efficiency as attractive as broadband or satellite TV.
- By tying energy saving to the people who pay the energy bills the Green Deal will work for tenants as well as owners.
And rather more briefly, he mentioned the renewable heat incentive: "And with the new feed-in tariff, and support for renewable heat, community and micro-generation can also play a part".
Depending how full or empty you view the glass, this might be a ringing support for the renewable heat incentive, or an indication that there will be some sort of support, but not as laid out in the RHI consultation document.
As for the Green Deal, it makes sense to prioritise insulation and to make sure it reaches those who need it most. Given that research shows that up to now the energy companies have always taken the route of least resistance, is there any evidence to indicate that the other household brands won't cherry pick off the easiest customers too. I hope that any contracts are watertight, and that they work closely with local councils to identify those most in need, and deliver street by street installation; and learn from successful projects such as Kirklees Council's Warm Zone and RE-Charge schemes.
Also missing from the speech was any indication whether the Green Deal would cover renewable energy as well as insulation. Rumour has it that it will, but it would be good to have it confirmed or denied.
By Cathy Debenham
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