A new Consumer Focus Scotland report on energy efficiency in existing private sector housing in Scotland says that there is a strong case for new regulation in the sector, to help cut rising energy costs and address fuel poverty.
However, the report also makes it clear that if new regulations are to work, they must:
• remove the barriers that disincentivise homeowners and landlords from investing in energy efficiency
• avoid regressive cost implications for consumers
• ensure a neutral impact on the supply of affordable housing in Scotland.
The houses with the lowest energy efficiency ratings are those in F and G bands. Scottish Government figures show that two-thirds of all households living in these homes are in fuel poverty – unable to afford to heat their homes to acceptable standards.
Speaking about the key issues addressed by the report, Trisha McAuley, Deputy Director and energy policy lead for Consumer Focus Scotland, said: “We have welcomed progress in improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes. Both new houses, and those rented through the public sector, have improved greatly in recent years.”
“We will continue to work to increase take-up of voluntary programmes which improve energy efficiency. But our report shows that improvements in existing private housing stock, both owner-occupied and private rented, are too slow to offset the impacts of rising energy costs. After discussion with partners, we believe that regulation is now needed.”
The Scottish government must outline its proposed approach to improving energy efficiency in Scottish housing by the end of March 2011. The report shows that there is a need for regulation, but also sets out the issues, like targeting, promotion and implementation, that need to be considered when developing the detailed approach.
Trisha added: “Our aim in publishing this approach is to make sure that changes deliver benefits for consumers at minimum cost. We also believe it will help engage consumers in debates about reducing climate change emissions, if there is a clearer link between reduced emissions, smaller bills, and more comfortable homes.”
Notes to editors
1. Energy efficiency in private sector housing in Scotland – Regulation and the consumer interest can be downloaded from the Consumer Focus Scotland website www.consumerfocus.org.uk/scotland/publications/reports
2. Consumer Focus Scotland is rooted in over 30 years of work promoting the interests of consumers, particularly those who experience disadvantage in society. We work for consumers in all aspects of their lives: as tenants, householders, patients, parents, solicitors’ clients, postal service users, energy consumers and shoppers.