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Energy: Conservation

Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Energy Efficiency Commitment will include ring-fenced funding to assist hard to reach rural households. (156029)

The Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC) is an obligation on electricity and gas suppliers in Britain to promote and deliver improvements in energy efficiency in households.

While it does not have a specific fuel poverty objective, the EEC does require suppliers to direct 50 per cent. of energy savings towards a priority group of low-income customers. Energy suppliers are free to find the most cost-effective ways to meet their obligations.

DEFRA held a statutory consultation on the third phase of EEC (to be renamed the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target) over the summer. Final proposals for the relevant legislation are expected to be put to Parliament this winter.

The consultation proposals suggested new flexibilities in the way that energy suppliers could meet their priority group obligations, encouraging them to work with customers in particularly hard to treat houses, such as those off the gas grid or with solid walls.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps his Department is taking to provide energy efficiency measures suitable for rural consumers in hard to heat homes that do not respond to traditional energy efficiency measures; (156366)

(2) what (a) steps his Department is taking and (b) advice and support is available to encourage rural consumers to become more energy efficient.

The Government are committed to improving the energy efficiency of homes across England in both rural and urban areas.

Our fuel poverty policies also aim to improve the energy efficiency of homes of the fuel poor. For those eligible clients, including rural customers who do not have access to mains gas, Warm Front has looked to widen the support it can offer by considering alternative (often low carbon) technologies for inclusion within the scheme. Further pilot schemes are now being instigated to test other technology for Warm Front suitability, including solar thermal and air source heat pumps.

The Warm Front scheme not only offers the installation of heating systems and insulation for eligible households, but also provides advice on improving the efficiency of the dwelling. Eaga Plc, the Warm Front scheme manager, has worked in conjunction with other organisations such as Age Concern, Farm Crisis Network and the Pension Service in rural communities across England to promote energy efficiency and other key support services.

We continue to fund the Energy Saving Trust, which provides information and advice to individuals and householders, including rural households. We have launched the Act on CO2 brand, including an advertising campaign and on-line carbon calculator to raise awareness of the link between personal behaviour and climate change.