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Home Energy Efficiency Measures

Volume 707: debated on Thursday 12 February 2009

Statement

Together with my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Minister for Housing, I am today publishing three consultation documents, the Heat and Energy Saving Strategy (HESS), the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target uplift (CERT) and the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), which together make up a comprehensive package to save energy and reduce emissions from now through to 2020 and beyond and increase the UK’s energy security.

The consultation on Heat and Energy Saving Strategy sets out the Government's long-term vision for dramatically improving the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses. If the UK is to achieve its targets on emissions reductions and renewable energy, we will have to move beyond conventional and easy-to-install energy efficiency measures and consider more radical ways of saving energy. We will also need to decarbonise the generation and supply of heat. By 2050, emissions from UK households need to be approaching zero if we are to meet our target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent. The Minister for Housing recently published a consultation setting out proposals on making new homes zero-carbon from 2016, and seeking views on the Government's ambition that non-domestic buildings should be zero carbon from 2019. This strategy therefore concentrates on existing buildings. By 2020, our ambition is to have made available comprehensive whole-house solutions to improve the energy performance of approximately 7 million homes. Building on this and by 2030, we aim to have made those measures available to all households.

In support of this, two consultations on increasing the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target by 20 per cent and the Community Energy Saving Programme set out the Government's immediate plans for households. In particular, they include increasing the current roll-out of energy efficiency measures and a new programme to deliver whole-house solutions to the most vulnerable households in deprived communities. The Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) is the Government's principal tool for delivering household energy and carbon savings. Under CERT, electricity and gas suppliers are required to meet challenging carbon-saving targets by encouraging households to take up energy efficiency measures. Suppliers are free to decide how to deliver their obligations, but typically will promote free and subsidised offers on key measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation and high-efficiency lights and appliances. They are obliged to meet at least 40 per cent of their targets in a priority group qualifying, low-income households, including those aged over 70. The obligation applies in England, Scotland and Wales. By way of increasing the number of energy-saving measures available to consumers and in response to high and rising energy prices, the Prime Minister, on 11 September 2008, proposed raising the CERT target by 20 per cent. Making a significant contribution to the UK’s environmental and social ambitions, increasing the level of CERT will mean a revised carbon target of 185 million tonnes lifetime CO2 savings (from 154MtCO2) to be delivered by 31 March 2011. This means annual savings of 5.3 MtCO2 (from 4.2 MtCO2), equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from 940,000 homes. It is expected to drive increased energy supplier investment of some £576 million, taking total energy supplier CERT investment to some £3.2 billion.

The Community Energy Savings Programme (CESP) was also announced on 11 September 2008 by the Prime Minister, and aims to deliver holistic packages of carbon abatement measures to vulnerable households in low-income, deprived communities in Great Britain and offers an opportunity to pilot some of the approaches outlined in the Heat and Energy Saving consultation document. The key proposals will deliver substantial emissions reductions and permanent fuel bills savings for those in the targeted areas, and are:

a new obligation on energy suppliers and electricity generators to deliver an estimated £350 million of energy efficiency measures, and to ensure fairness to be targeted at the most vulnerable domestic consumers;

ensuring targeted households, and hard to treat properties, receive the most effective and expensive actions like solid wall insulation;

measures to be offered as a package to deliver whole house solutions, delivered in a house-by-house, street-by-street approach; and

to deliver support through a community partnership where local authorities and community groups work with the electricity generators and energy suppliers to help identify the households in most need.

The proposals in these consultation documents will help us to tackle both the immediate difficulties people face in paying their energy bills and the longer-term issues we face in becoming more energy efficient and decarbonising our heat supply.