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Thermal Insulation: Housing

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with (a) Ofgem, (b) energy companies and (c) the devolved administrations on the insulation of hard-to-treat homes; and if he will make a statement. (196883)

My ministerial colleagues and I have had regular discussions with Ofgem, energy companies and the devolved administrations as part of developing the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT), launched on 1 April. CERT has been specifically designed to encourage suppliers to promote innovative measures appropriate to hard to treat homes, such as solid wall insulation and heat pumps, by way of an uplift in scores. Suppliers can also use an option in the Priority Group, under which they receive a further uplift for solid wall insulation installed in the homes of those on benefits or for ground source heat pumps installed in the homes of those on benefits and off the gas grid.

Equally, the Government’s review of the Fuel Poverty Strategy is exploring the role of alternative technologies in alleviating fuel poverty, including those who could not be assisted by established insulation or heating measures.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of feasible methods of insulating hard-to-treat homes; and if he will make a statement. (196884)

Finding innovative, cost-effective and attractive ways of insulating hard to treat homes will be core to both our carbon saving and fuel poverty alleviation ambitions. To inform policy development and stimulate market transformation:

we commissioned a study from the Building Research Establishment to look at the extent of hard to treat homes in England and to consider different technical options for treating them. Part one of the study (on the extent) has already been published with the second part to be published in the summer;

we included an innovation ring-fence and flexibility option under the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target to allow suppliers to trial more expensive measures—we expect 150,000 households to benefit from Solid Wall Insulation under CERT;

we are providing the Energy Saving Trust with £1 million under the Environmental Transformation Fund to support market research into several innovative efficiency products, including the development and field trials of alternative forms of solid wall insulation, and;

Warm Front, the Government’s main programme for eradicating fuel poverty in vulnerable households, has mechanisms in place to locate and assess the suitability of alternative technologies for use in the scheme, with a particular emphasis on those that could potentially provide solutions for hard-to-treat properties. As part of this process, we are currently piloting solar thermal units in off-gas property.