Skip to main content

Home Energy Efficiency

Volume 488: debated on Thursday 5 March 2009

5. What recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on improving the energy efficiency of houses by 2020; and if he will make a statement. (260725)

Department of Energy and Climate Change Ministers have had regular discussions with ministerial colleagues on improving the energy efficiency of households, particularly through the development of our heat and energy-saving strategy published last month. With measures to provide low-cost energy audits, insulation through a new pay-as-you-save scheme, and incentives for renewable heat, we aim to build on the 5 million households insulated since 2002, provide whole-house energy efficiency for 7 million more households by 2020, and make it available for all households by 2030.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. It is true, is it not, that many of the homes that are standing today will be standing in 2020? Many of those homes are not energy-efficient. What real progress is being made to ensure that our families are saving money and that we can have a positive impact on climate change?

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. The carbon emissions reduction target, or CERT, the Prime Minister’s announcements last September and the Warm Front scheme are making a big difference. I mentioned that 5 million households had been insulated since 2002, but there is a lot more that we need to do. We also need, over the coming years, to move towards a much more house-by-house, street-by-street approach. I do not recall this in detail, but the transition to North sea gas is perhaps the right model to think about—every house was visited and switched over. We need the same approach in relation to energy efficiency, because that can make a huge difference to families’ bills and to carbon emissions.

The Prime Minister talks about new green jobs, but is not the reality far removed from his rhetoric? In September, he said that 6 million homes would be insulated in the next three years, but industry says that that figure will now be just 4 million; the Government said that 1 million homes would have cavity wall insulation in the current financial year, but the real figure is fewer than 600,000; and instead of 150,000 new green jobs in this crucial area, manufacturers of energy conservation materials are cutting their output and putting their workers on short time. Will the Secretary of State accept our proposals, endorsed by the Energy Saving Trust, to offer every household a comprehensive range of energy-efficient measures, with the cost recouped over time through their bills? It works in the States, so why not here?

This proposal is very interesting, because it was announced and spun with great fanfare by the Opposition, who said that every household would get £6,500 to spend on energy efficiency. When further inquiries were made, it turned out that 1 per cent. of households would be offered £6,000. As to the hon. Gentleman’s point about the Prime Minister’s announcements last September, let me give him the figures. In the third quarter of this year, 183,000 households were given cavity wall insulation under CERT and 158,000 households were given loft insulation under CERT, compared with figures in the second quarter of 67,000 for cavity wall insulation and 98,000 for loft insulation. I consider that real improvement and real help now for Britain’s families.