Responding to the Government’s Annual Energy Statement, Audrey Gallacher, Consumer Focus Director of Energy, said:
‘If the Government gets this right, it has the potential to transform millions of homes. The key test is for Government to engage people thoroughly and makes sure they have full confidence in the changes ahead.
‘We welcome the plans to encourage people to install energy-saving measures by removing the up-front costs. ‘It is vital that consumers have confidence in this emerging market and are given the right protections.
‘Proposals still need to provide more detail on how the Government plans to help households in fuel poverty. A well-designed Energy Company Obligation (ECO) that focuses initially on low income consumers would help the Government meet both its fuel poverty and carbon targets.
‘The proceeds from new carbon taxes could be used to provide vital funds to support a national energy efficiency programme that complements Green Deal and ECO. Consumer Focus does not consider Green Deal and ECO are sufficient by themselves to meet the Government’s statutory carbon and fuel poverty targets.’
A major challenge is to persuade the property market to value energy efficiency. There is good information in Energy Performance Certificates but the Government should introduce further incentives to make energy efficiency a bigger selling point for home buyers, sellers and renters. These could include discounts for installing efficient boilers and other measures, and reduced stamp duty or council tax, for people who improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Notes to editors
The Green Deal will allow consumers to install energy efficiency measures in their homes by paying the costs of the measures through a charge on their electricity bill. The savings on their bills made possible by the measures must be greater than the Green Deal charge (the ‘golden rule’). Charges will stay with the electricity meter even if the occupier moves home. Further information on the Green Deal can be found in Consumer Focus’s briefing
We have concerns about the application of Green Deal finance, particularly if consumers are not also told about other finance options or grant support, but our research Access for All analysed five different policy scenarios, and found that even with the Green Deal charge, households could cut their bills by around £200 at today’s prices.
The Government wants ECO to transform the solid wall insulation industry. However, our research Scaling the solid wallshows that the challenges are considerable and include planning barriers, disruption to consumers and high fixed costs.
Fuel poverty and energy efficiency are devolved issues in Scotland and Wales. The UK Government is incorporating Scottish and Welsh Governments’ policy into their policy-making (and resultant legislation) so that the result should enable cross-border delivery as well as recognising national differences. A key issue in both nations will be integrating Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) with the existing schemes in Wales and Scotland so people eligible for financial support under these schemes are able to access them.
Here is the link to the Government’s annual energy statement: