There is considerable concern in the run up to Rio, are we actually going to do anything with our targets, or are we just re arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?
The Green Deal is the show in town in terms of supporting us all to use less energy, (though we note there is no obligation for energy companies to help us reduce our carbon footprint under the new £12bn ‘Smart’ world that we will be moving to in 2014.) Coming to you this year (the Green Deal providers were announced last week), the framework seeks to offer consumers energy efficiency improvements to their homes, community spaces and businesses at no upfront cost, with payments recouped through a charge in instalments on the energy bill.
Things we need to think about – Working with our trusted partners Sustainable Merton and Parity: we conducted surveys amongst those in ‘Positive Green Communities’ in an area of London where the home ownership was higher than average – 81% of our respondents were home-owners as compared to the London average of 70%, and therefore our respondents were the very people at which the Green Deal is to be targeted.
Even if a household can secure cash savings by reducing their energy consumption, getting people to be interested in participating in schemes in the first place will be difficult if the benefits are not clearly explained. Our respondents were at the ‘greener’ end of the spectrum and this is what they told us (our full report is here.)
People were aware that under the previous Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) scheme, households were offered insulation for free. It has been clear for some time that a radical overhaul of the system used to reach fuel-poor families is needed. This means more support and targeted attempts to help them make the greatest savings – and not just from energy companies. Social landlords, local authorities, community groups and, as a charity, I will say our evidence clearly suggests that trusted face-to-face sources should be reaching out to the fuel-poor and helping them work out which energy-saving schemes are best for them. In line with LSx’s own Social Networking practice, we found from our focus groups that more effective channels of delivering information and support would be from people or organisations closest to them.
What worries me is that the fuel-poor are also more likely to live in those hard-to-treat homes that may not benefit from the Green Deal whatever the interest rate. Nearly 60% of London’s properties have solid walls. In order to give London a fairer deal, we really do need regional targets, as well as accelerating the rate at which London’s whole insulation programme is rolled out. CERT has only delivered 4.7% of loft and cavity wall insulation across the capital so far. The Green Deal impact assessment suggests that installations of loft and cavity wall insulation are set to fall to 15% of current levels, meaning it would take a century just to insulate the rest of the capital’s ‘easy-to-treat’ lofts and cavity walls.
The best way for us to reduce fuel poverty would be to change the tariff alongside these energy saving projects. The first units of electricity are charged at a higher rate than subsequent units, which means the fuel-poor can end up spending a larger proportion of their income on energy, while more affluent consumers who use more energy enjoy the savings.
Credit LSx: Results from the Energise Merton Green Deal survey