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Housing: Insulation

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what assistance his Department provides to people who are living in hard-to-heat houses to enable them to insulate their homes; (249386)

(2) what steps his Department is taking to encourage people living in hard-to-heat houses to improve their energy efficiency;

(3) what steps his Department is taking to provide energy efficiency tools suitable for hard-to-heat homes.

The Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) is the Government's principal policy on insulating homes in Great Britain. Under CERT the major energy suppliers have an obligation to promote household carbon saving measures such as insulation. The most important measures for hard-to-treat homes are solid wall insulation and central heating. Suppliers installed around 80,000 heating measures and around 40,000 solid wall measures under the previous obligation period to March 2008, mostly in partnership with social landlords. We recognise that the high up-front cost of solid wall insulation makes it difficult for suppliers to justify this investment. Under CERT we have therefore introduced specific incentives to help improve the financial viability of these measures, with a particular focus on solid-walled homes which are not on the gas grid.

We also continue to assess innovative products, including solid wall insulation, for inclusion in the Warm Front scheme—the Government's main fuel poverty programme in England (fuel poverty is a devolved matter). There will be a focus on improving the energy efficiency of hard-to-treat properties in the forthcoming Community Energy Saving Programme, the proposals for which will be consulted on shortly.

In addition to insulation, through CERT we also promote other energy efficiency measures, such as low energy lamps and high efficiency appliances. We also recognise the value of providing information and advice on energy use and the best steps to make a home more energy efficient. We already provide an on-line carbon calculator, and will shortly be consulting on new provisions to encourage the deployment of real-time energy displays and home energy efficiency advice under CERT.