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You can have your cake and eat it, Chancellor

George Osborne energy bills campaign

When it comes to energy policy, the battle lines have been drawn. Yet the debate continues to return to whether we want an affordable solution or a green solution. It is often claimed, we can’t have both. But we can.

In fact, this must be the dual test all of our green policies – they must meet the needs of consumers by helping them to drive down bills as well as meeting our environmental commitments.

We believe the Chancellor can have his cake and eat it – delivering energy efficiency policies that are both green and lean – when he delivers his Autumn Statement next week.

Our analysis shows that there are changes that can be made immediately which mean we help the same number of fuel poor households, meet our carbon targets and streamline the costs that are passed onto consumers.

Cut the cost of Government energy policies

So far almost 43,000 people have backed our campaign calling on the Chancellor to cut the cost of Government energy policies, while helping the same number of households as last year to make their homes better insulated, by:

  • Re-targeting the Energy Company Obligation (ECO): too much is focused on expensive measures. If the Carbon Savings Obligation prioritised low cost measures in the short term instead, it could save between £242m-£363m a year, help at least the same number of households and still meet its carbon targets.
  • Scrapping the carbon floor price: it is an unnecessary burden on consumers that does nothing to incentivise low carbon energy production and increases wholesale costs. This would take in the region of £1 billion off bills next year.
  • Halting the smart meter roll out: it is a £12bn luxury we cannot currently afford. We should pause for two years, put a cap on the costs and decide how to make the roll out as cost effective as possible. This would save almost £80m a year for two years.
  • Taking the Warm Home Discount off consumers’ bills: this could cut bills by over £290m a year.

Help those under pressure

These changes could potentially save consumers up to £1.8 billion per year – that’s around £68 off the annual average household bill a year.

Making these changes would not only give the Government time to come to a sustainable and effective long term solution but deliver value for money on inefficient policies and help those under pressure right now.

Successive governments have failed with their energy efficiency policies and while it’s estimated that this will have cost around £8.4bn by 2015, still more than half of Britain’s 27 million homes are without adequate insulation.

There is an opportunity here for the Chancellor to put this right.

So next week, when George Osborne stands up to deliver his Autumn Statement we want him to stand up for the millions of hard-pressed consumers who are grappling day-to-day with rising energy costs. And we want him to show we don’t have to choose between green and lean.

Comments
Member

This is more like it – practical measures to reduce energy bills, not ill-conceived political price freezes. Loft insulation is cheap and effective, as can be cavity wall insulation. We should be looking after our countries interests, not trying to lead the world with expensive “green” measures. We should be looking at more sensible ways of producing energy in the future – not from expensive unreliable wind farms and life-limited solar arrays – try nuclear, tidal energy and fracking.
Make sure, though, that we target help at those genuinely in need. House insulation and double glazing are, in my book, home improvements that benefit the owner; those who can afford them – taking energy savings into account – should be persuaded that they are in their financial interests and helped with information on how best to carry them out.

Member

I agree in part Malcom R. Tidal should be considered, and look at the plant working in Hayle in Cornwall carefully, and also the Siemens tidal development. Also that we should be looking at leading the world in Green Issues, Our development of new Technology is recognised internationally and some of it not given the credit they are due.

Solar I find worthwhile as with only six panels produce half of our consumption, and should be installed on every building. Fracking and nuclear give me the shivers. We have had our panels, for four years, apart from BT putting the telephone cables higher right across the panels allowing birds to sit on it, and reducing our output somewhat! we have no other problems so far.

I like the way the Greening Campaign looked at the issue, start by small steps in your lifestyle, add changes as and when you can. One Councillor locally said in a speech that if ten homes in ten streets in ten villages in ten towns etc did ten things then you really have something. The changes We have made have made our bills half of the national average on both gas and electricity. Each purchase has to pay for itself. Small changes lead to bigger changes, one lifestyle change could be cooking in an oven, we can double the days electricity used by cooking one good roast dinner.
I think we should consider that lots of the fuel poor are in rented homes, many of them paid for by Benefits. Maybe an answer is to have these homes brought up to a specified SAP rating before they are rented out. The money spent on smart meters should have been spent on productive energy saving programme, so that the installation pays for itself. you can take your own readings from the meter. Which is what the Green Deal is all about.

There is no list anywhere as to what people have done or how savings can be really achieved, information seems fragmented.

Member

Which? you have entirely missed the point. ECO is split 3 ways, not focussed on expensive measures. Two parts fund measures for the fuel poor, expensive and inexpensive – 7 million fuel poor households live in solid wall houses and they can’t be fixed cheaply. The third part funds hard to treat i.e. expensive measures that will not work under the Green Deal. Let’s fix the Green Deal so that it gets used by the better off to do the easy things that have a quick payback. Don’t use ECO money to fund easy things for well off people. Then let ECO get on with helping the poor and those in hard to treat houses. And as for leading the world with expensive green measures, the only thing we are leading the world in is the age of our housing stock. Other countries don’t have the number of solid wall properties we do, so don’t need to insulate them. Don’t make it sound like we are going out on a limb here for the sake of it. So, so disappointed with the quality of this campaign compared with the normally high standard of Which’s work.

Member

We don’t want cheap fuel because that won’t encourage people to insulate their homes and reduce the amount of fuel or number of gadgets that they use.

We need people to be encouraged and shown how to insulate and keep their homes and themselves warm.

Where are these schemes? Where are the programmes showing how people can do this – the programmes showing acceptable solutions to renovating our Victorian and Georgian homes well and increasing their insulation and making them more comfortable and fuel efficient?

What proportion of the nation’s homes are suitable for cavity wall insulation compared to those that aren’t? It is cavity wall insulation that they have been offering. Why?

So the Government was expecting companies that sell fuel to organise insulating homes so that they wouldn’t be selling as much fuel to them? Isn’t there a conflict of interest here?

Member

My home was EPC rated in June this year. I was informed by the Govt Assessor that an ‘A’ Rated property was quite a rarity in this country and would normally only apply to flats. Almost all ‘B’ Rated stock are purpose built flats and would only apply to 18% of UK citizens, whereas compared to 62% of Germans and 41% of French it is easy to why the need for reform is greater here. 23% of UK citizens live in detached houses compared to 23% also in Germany and 39% in France. 33% of UK citizens live in semi-detached houses and 26% in terraced compared to 13% of Germans in semi-detached or terraced and 20% of French in semi-detached or terraced.
There are obviously cultural and social differences here and I am not advocating that everyone should live in a flat but if you can afford to live in an older type detached house it is obviously going to cost more to heat and you are more likely to be able to afford to comply with green issues.
Incidentally to bring my home up to the recommended requirement, I would be saving approximately £130 per annum on my heating bills but it is going to take me 50 years to recoup the outlay and as I am of a certain age and not eligible for discounts either I may to decide to stay with the status quo!