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An End to Cold Homes: Labour’s plans for energy efficiency

During Labour Party Conference in September 2014, Caroline Flint set out Labour's plans to end the scandal of cold homes. Building on Labour’s energy price freeze, she announced a major drive on home insulation and set out plans to deliver long-term, permanent savings on energy bills and warmer homes for millions of people. The plans mean that at least 5 million homes are upgraded over 10 years, saving the average household over £270 a year from their energy bill.

Objectives of the consultation

The Labour Government Green Paper set out in more detail the nature of their plans and provided an opportunity for interested parties to engage in the development of those proposals.

Energy bills in the least energy efficient properties are over £1,000 a year higher than homes with good insulation, and two-thirds of households in fuel poverty live in the worst insulated properties. The Energy Efficiency Green Paper set out the steps to be taken to end cold homes:

  • Provide personalised home energy reports for half a million homes a year.
  • Deliver free energy efficiency home improvements to at least 200,000 low-income households a year.
  • Offer up to a million loans for home improvements that are interest-free in the next Parliament, for households that are able to help meet the costs.
  • Set a new target for landlords to get cold and leaky properties up to a decent standard.
  • Designate energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority.
  • Streamline regulations and provide a long-term strategy to support investment in energy efficiency by businesses.

There is already an obligation on the energy companies to spend £940 million a year on energy efficiency improvements, and the Government itself has budgeted £300 million to spend on energy efficiency between 2015 and 2017. The Energy Efficiency Green Paper proposals are about making much better use of this money to ensure they help as many people as possible – they do not require any additional spending.

Supporting papers

To download the consultation document, please follow the link below.

CIBSE response

CIBSE is pleased to see the focus on energy efficiency in the commercial sector set out in section 4 of the consultation paper. Energy is a scarce resource, just like any other. Yet the attitude of both consumers and businesses to wasting energy appears to be quite unlike most other forms of waste.

CIBSE believes that:

  • Stable future UK energy supplies require a systems based approach which incorporates decarbonisation of supplies that is made affordable by reduced energy demand, therefore, energy efficiency is likely to be a very important policy in the near future.
  • Reviewing the existing policy mix relating to energy efficiency reveals an unnecessarily complex system. This needs resolution before we add any more policy measures, and it should be an urgent priority for the UK Government.
  • There is a need to ensure that whatever regulations are adopted, there is a reasonable, proportionate and realistic enforcement model. The present situation with the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations is a serious concern, which threatens to undermine other policies, in particular the proposed Minimum Energy Performance Standards.
  • There also needs to be a clear pathway forward for the next several years, with a firm EU deadline for “nearly zero energy” buildings from 2021 for private sector buildings and 2019 for the public sector. There is, however, an urgent need to reconcile the UK “zero carbon” policy, based on “Allowable Solutions” with the EU “nearly zero energy” policy.
  • Delivering our targets will require strong political leadership, sustained policies and much hard work, and not just in the public sector. Proper implementation of existing policies such as Display Energy Certificates and air conditioning inspections is needed.
  • The transition to a low carbon, low energy demand future will be uncomfortable and expensive but the long term rewards are very significant, and the costs of inaction will be even greater.

To read the full CIBSE response, please follow the link below.