New green strategy to overhaul Britain’s homes

Today the Department of Energy and Climate Change have released the following information on their green strategy.

Paving the way for ‘pay as you save’ green finance to make energy efficiency pay from day one.

  • Up to 7 million British households to benefit from eco upgrades by 2020
  • Up to 65,000 jobs in the green home industry
  • Energy companies and local authorities to join forces to help consumers
  • New standards for social and rented accommodation to be proposed

A green transformation of Britain’s homes will take place over the next decade – making them more comfortable, warmer and cheaper to run – under new plans set out by the Government today.

With around one quarter of UK emissions coming from energy used in homes the Warm Homes, Greener Homes Strategy is aimed at cutting emissions from the UK’s homes by 29% by 2020.

The new strategy will help people make smarter use of energy in homes, making it easier to take action and reduce bills. Installing some technologies, such as solid wall insulation, could see energy bills cut by £380 a year (average between 2013 and 2020).

The new strategy will also be good for jobs, with up to 65,000 jobs required in the green homes industry as a result, for example installing and manufacturing energy saving measures or providing home energy advice.

The strategy will be implemented in a three stage plan:

  1. To insulate 6 million homes by the end of 2011
  2. To have insulated all practical lofts and cavity walls by 2015
  3. To have offered up to 7 million eco upgrades by 2020; all homes to have smart meters.

Ed Miliband, Energy and Climate Secretary, said:

“This shows we can meet the national interest of tackling climate change and reducing our dependence on foreign energy at the same time as we help people save money.
“The Warm Homes, Greener Homes Strategy will remove the deterrent of upfront costs and reduce the hassle of the move to greener living.

“Making homes more energy efficient will help protect people from upward pressure on bills, tackle climate change, and make us less reliant on imported energy.

“New ‘pay as you save’ green finance, a new alliance between energy companies and local authorities to help people in their communities, as well as moves to encourage landlords to stop ignoring energy wastage in their properties, will help deliver the radical transformation that’s necessary.”

Communities Secretary, John Denham, said:

“Local authorities are uniquely positioned to drive and shape a low carbon economy, low carbon living and influence the kind of behaviour change that will be needed to meet the UK commitment to the 34 percent cut in emissions on 1990 levels by 2020.

“Councils are already making huge advances on this agenda. We want all local authorities to take the lead on reducing emissions in their area. There are obvious benefits for local people both financially and in terms of quality of life and it is crucial that local authorities maximise these and involve local people every step of the way.”

John Healey, Housing Minister, said:

“The new measures announced today put the consumer in control of greening up their homes. More than a quarter of carbon emissions come from our homes, so it is vital people are able to make the improvements that will lead to smarter use of energy. It also puts social housing centre stage of efforts to reduce bills and carbon emissions to help the poorest first, with council and Housing Association landlords linking up with energy companies to get efficiency work done, and tenants getting the benefits of warmer, greener homes with lower bills.

“Today I have also announced an additional £2.5m to provide a network of Green Show Homes across England, lived in by ordinary people and open to the public. People will be able to see first hand what a refurbished green home is like to live in, and the new technologies they can use to improve the energy efficiency of their own homes and save money on bills.

“There’s a driving force behind the green homes movement with homeowners, developers and local authorities lining up to get on board. There is a lot of momentum to change and radically re-think how we track our energy use and refurbish our homes and buildings for the future. People in their own homes will get help with costs, and there will be help for private landlords and tenants, but we’re also ready to regulate in the future if landlords will not do the green refurbishment needed.”

Main elements of the Warm Homes, Greener Homes Strategy include:

Action to dismantle the financial barriers to energy efficiency

  • Legislating to allow new ‘pay as you save’ green loans to be tied to the property, which will avoid the up-front cost of eco upgrades
  • Help those in private rented accommodation whose landlords have little incentive to take action and who endure poorly insulated and cold accommodation.

New local approach

  • Energy companies and local authorities teaming up to make homes more energy efficient – with energy companies required to help householders become more energy efficient. The new local partnership approach will take over from 2013, once the current Carbon Emissions Reduction Target ends
  • Building on the Local Carbon Framework pilots announced by Communities Secretary John Denham in December, which are a new approach for local authorities to set targets and put in place plans to reduce carbon emissions.

Help to those who need it most

  • Direct help to those that need it most with energy companies targeting work towards lower income groups
  • A new ‘Warm Homes’ standard for social housing will see all social tenants receive free energy upgrades for their homes from energy companies, including fitted smart meters, leading to savings of up to £300 a year on bills
  • Consult on setting minimum energy efficiency standards for rented property to help tenants left in poorly insulated, cold and energy wasting properties – and ensuring standards are met before they are rented out

Better information and standards for consumers

  • One stop shop energy helpline for people to access trust-worthy information about how to benefit from energy efficiency measures
  • New set of standards for workmanship and products to protect consumers from the threat of cowboy eco-builders and dodgy products
  • A new network of eco show homes to demonstrate the range of money saving and money generating technology available
  • Proposals to overhaul the scope of Energy Performance Certificates, to give householders a better understanding of what they can do to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, including an online modelling system so homeowners can do a virtual green makeover before taking action.

As part of our work with the corporate sector to promote behaviour change, DECC is funding a new initiative collaborating with a small group of leading employers to mobilise their employees to insulate their homes. Later this month, the ‘Insulate Today’ pilot programme will be launched by Aviva, HSBC and Sainsbury’s reaching around 250,000 staff members, making it easier, cheaper and more appealing for them to insulate their homes and saving them money and energy.

Today’s new strategy builds on the progress already made in making the UK’s homes more energy efficient. Between 2002 and April 2008, the Government has helped 5 million homes become more energy efficient. Government support has already been aimed at vulnerable groups including the fuel poor. Warm Front – the Government scheme for the fuel poor – has helped over 2 million vulnerable households, across England, since its inception in June 2000, including half a million households in the last two years alone.

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