UK's failed energy efficiency policies need urgent reform, says watchdog

1st April 2015


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Author

John O'Connor

Failure by successive governments to maximise the full potential of energy efficiency has left millions of homes poorly insulated and leaking heat, according to UK consumer watchdog, Which?

In a new report, Which? says 7.4 million homes still need their lofts fully lagged and up to 5.4 million homes lack cavity wall insulation. Current energy efficiency schemes, such as energy company obligation (ECO) and Green Deal have serious failings, the report concludes.

“With millions of homes still not insulated, energy efficiency is a collective failure of successive governments. The next government must grab this issue by the scruff of the neck and commit to an aggressive energy efficiency strategy as soon as it takes power,” Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said.

Which? wants the next Westminster administration to implement a radical, long-term energy efficiency strategy, based around a locally-led approach to reduce consumers’ energy bills, tackle fuel poverty and reduce the £1.36 billion the NHS spends every year to treat illness caused by cold homes.

The report sets out a number of recommendations for the next government, including a central funding stream with money allocated to local authorities on a needs basis. Under this arrangement, local authorities would develop and implement new energy efficiency strategies to prioritise those people most in need and provide advice on reduced insulation rates for those able to pay.

The report also recommends that the ECO be transformed into a levy that offers more cost certainty and improved reporting. The Green Deal scheme should be retained, it advises, but should be subject to a comprehensive evaluation to find out whether current interest rates, loan terms and the impact on house saleability and other factors are reasons for its low appeal to consumers.

The report says that these change could be fully implemented by 2017, provided a cross-departmental strategy on energy efficiency is set up under Decc’s leadership and with full cooperation from the business, communities and health departments as well as the Treasury.


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