The Government must ramp up support to plug leaky homes, to permanently drive down energy bills this winter and reduce overall energy usage, argues the UK’s leading industry body.
Energy UK has reignited calls for a nationwide insulation campaign to prevent Brits shivering in their homes, exposed to ultra-high energy bills.
Louise Shooter, Policy Manager at Energy UK, said: “Many homes are wasting gas, and subsequently lots of money, for no reason. We need to avoid making the same mistake for next winter, and ramp up the installation of energy efficiency measures now.”
She recognised the turbulence in Government has delayed many policy decisions, however she did not believe Downing Street “can afford to wait.”
“High energy bills are likely to continue into next year, so the Government needs to get on with it,” the energy expert added.
Energy UK has highlighted the UK has some of the draughtiest housing stock in Europe, meaning Brits could feasibly cut down their energy bills through loft and cavity wall insulation.
The lack of a clear scheme means the Government and households will spend millions of pounds more than they need to via the Energy Price Guarantee.
Shooter noted new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has previously spoken positively about a new energy efficiency programme – and called for his words to now be met with action.
She said: “Earlier this year the Prime Minister spoke about the need for an energy efficiency programme, so we hope he delivers in this at the forthcoming budget as it’s good for households, the economy, jobs and the public purse – as well as UK energy supply, and carbon emissions.”
ECO+ could boost energy efficiency drive
The existing Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funds energy efficiency measures for eligible households in receipt of certain benefits or allowances, or in social housing with poor energy efficiency, to lower their bills in the long term.
ECO has powered 2.3m installations nationwide and saved on average £290 per year, for each house it improved.
Energy UK has now proposed an expansion of the scheme funded by the Government to stimulate the creation of a commercial market, whilst boosting jobs, skills and the supply chain.
Dubbed ECO+, this programme would provide partial subsidies for measures such as cavity wall, loft and solid wall insulation for homes in council tax bands A-D.
Energy UK analysis shows that if ECO+ had been operational for the year in the run up to October 2022, it could have improved 702,000 homes with loft and cavity wall insulation.
The improved homes would have spent £280 less on their bills, and each saved the Government £120 in Energy Price Guarantee costs – saving a total of £400 per improved home over six months between October 2022 and March 2023.
This would means in total the taxpayer and households could have avoided unnecessary spends of £85m and £199m respectively on gas this winter over the same period.
Downing Street has invested £6.6bn in total this Parliament to improve energy efficiency across the country.
Last year, it unveiled the Heat and Buildings Strategy, setting out a decarbonisation plan for households alongside commercial, industrial and public sector buildings.
However, installation rates have dropped sharply in the past decade from over two million homes per year to just tens of thousands after former Prime Minister David Cameron slashed previous efficiency schemes – according to the latest data from Climate Change Committee.
When approached for comment, a Government spokesperson said: “We’re investing £6.6bn in total this parliament to improve energy efficiency across the country, with the majority of our support targeting those on low income and vulnerable households.
“Huge progress has already been made, with the number of homes with an energy efficiency rating of C or above at 46 per cent and rising, up from just 14 per cent in 2010.”