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Why energy efficient homes are seriously achievable in the near future, and what the Government can do about it

Why energy efficient homes are seriously achievable in the near future, and what the Government can do about it

27th April 2016

April 27th sees Warmer & Greener: A Guide to the Future of Domestic Energy Efficiency Policy launched in Parliament. A key report that comes in the wake of inquiries by the Energy & Climate Change Committee, National Audit Office and the upcoming Bonfield Review, Warmer & Greener provides workable solutions in a four part approach.

Warmer & Greener is the latest offering from the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum, sponsored by ADEY and the British Board of Agrément.

Co-chairs Peter Aldous MP and Dr Alan Whitehead MP said of the report: “This report provides an extremely useful guide to the future of domestic energy efficiency policy. It could not come at a better time.”

The report aims to see fuel poverty drastically cut alongside energy bill savings, better home comfort and quality of living, better health, less reliance on the NHS and slashing carbon emissions.

It does this in four parts: regulation, financial mechanisms, advice & information, developing the energy efficiency industry.

Warmer & Greener asks for government policy to provide more certainty for the development of the energy efficiency industry. With a number of changes in policy relating to energy efficiency in recent years, a lack of certainty and consistency has undermined the confidence of the energy efficiency industry to invest in training, research, product development and marketing. These include the revision of energy savings targets for ECO and the move away from the original focus on more expensive measures; plus the ending of the Landlord's Energy Savings Allowance, the Code for Sustainable Homes and zero carbon homes standards; and the discontinuation of funding for the Green Deal.

For the energy efficiency industry, government could financially back the relatively little known Dutch Energiesprong scheme which provides deep whole house retrofits and acts as broker between installers and the customer, making retrofitting far more financially viable. In the Netherlands this approach of taking responsibility away from householders and giving them energy performance contracts (which work much like a mobile phone bill) is delivering significant results. This is likely the first official report to government that recognises the potential in this scheme. There is a fledgling UK setup which could benefit from government support and could then go on to really develop the energy efficiency industry and develop ties with the new build, commercial housing and owner-occupied sectors.

It also recommends implementing gradually increased minimum energy efficiency standards through regulation for the sale and rent of homes and regulating marketing in the private rented sector so rents include expected energy costs.

The authors argue for greater financial support for those in fuel poverty to improve their homes. They also make the case for the smart use of financial mechanisms to incentivise people to improve their home’s efficiency such as changes in mortgage products and stamp duty. Additionally, retrofitted show homes could help educate the public on energy efficiency measures.