Is energy efficiency about to become an electoral
The Labour party last week put a plan to help UK households cut
energy use, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint at the
core of its
Speaking at Labour's annual conference last week, the shadow
energy and climate secretary Caroline Flint declared
a "war on cold homes". UK household's are horribly inefficient,
she argued, calling the government's current policies
Labour's plan would make five million homes more energy
efficient within 10 years, all "without spending any more money or
adding to anyone's energy bill", Flint claims.
So what are the new policies, and how do they differ from the
government's current schemes? Most importantly, would it work?
Labour's plan has five parts.
If elected, Labour says it will make the homes of 200,000 low
income households more energy efficient each year, for ten years,
by paying for them to install insulation and more efficient
boilers, among other measures. That would be two million homes in
total by 2025.
Labour's plan differs from the government's current scheme for
targeting low income households, the
energy companies obligation (ECO), in a number of ways.
Firstly, it targets all low income households, not just those in
fuel poverty. The UK currently has around three million households
in fuel poverty and six million classified as low income. So
changing the scheme's focus "basically doubles the number of people
[the government] can provide help to", Ed Matthew from campaign
group Energy Bill Revolution argues.
Labour also promises to bring the homes up to energy efficiency
grade C in one go rather than in stages, as the government
currently plans to do. It also says the improvements will be made
street-by-street, rather than one property at a time. It also hands
control of the scheme to councils, taking it out the hands of
The energy efficiency industry has long argued that area-based
plans that make all the improvements at the same time are more
efficient than the government's current property-by-property
scheme, Matthews says.
For those not in fuel poverty, Labour plans to offer free energy
assessments and interest free loans to make improvements - the
second and third parts of its plan. That should help overcome two
of the main obstacles to people participating in the government's
current scheme, the
Green Deal, it says.