The UK government must improve advice on energy savings, its climate advisors say energy efficiency

UK climate advisers said the UK government should improve its advice on providing energy to households to help cut costs for consumers and the Treasury this winter.

The chair of the Climate Change Committee, Lord Dippen, said Britain has been hit by fluctuations in fossil fuel prices that have forced the government to commit tens of billions of pounds to support them, and homes and businesses still face an extra £1,300 on average annual bills. .

In a letter to the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, Dippen said decarbonizing the UK economy and conserving energy could reduce vulnerability to fossil fuel price shocks, but that reducing energy demand was the “biggest gap” in government policy on the issue.

He warned that the UK’s recent record of reducing emissions from building heating has been “particularly poor”, due to underinvestment, with the number of energy efficiency measures installed annually dropping from 2.3m a decade ago to less than 100,000 in 2021.

He said it was “unfortunate” that it was too late to introduce new policies to make large-scale improvements to the fabric of buildings this winter, but that there had been many small changes that could still save energy and money for families.

Dippen urged the government to boost its energy advisory services so it has information on simple energy-saving measures, not just complex home retrofits, and for the Help Homes campaign to say more about how to save energy.

Simple no-cost steps such as adjusting radiator valves in rooms less frequently used, reducing boiler flow temperatures and closing blinds at night, and low-cost measures such as insulating hot water tanks and insulating draft windows, doors and letter boxes can all save money.

The letter argued that better information and advice on energy-saving measures could save households several hundred pounds, while the Treasury could save hundreds of millions of pounds from an energy price guarantee.

Deben said energy efficiency should be an essential part of the government’s strategy to exit from exorbitant billing subsidies.

“The next two years should be a period of coordinated pressure to improve insulation rates of overhead walls and cavities, resist drafts, and install modern tools to manage energy use, such as smart thermostats, thermostat controls, and smart meters,” the letter said. He added that with higher prevailing energy prices, investments in energy efficiency measures are more quickly offset by savings on fuel bills.

Efforts should focus on areas that provide high value for money, such as cavity wall and loft insulation, or low initial costs such as hot water tank insulation, and on insulating homes that lack fuel with measures including solid wall insulation.

The commission called for the continuation of the temporary abolition of green taxes on electricity bills – part of the support package from the government – with the costs borne in the treasury. This would stimulate the use of low carbon and efficient electrically powered heat pumps.

To pay for the measures, she said, there needs to be a shift from public funding to support bills to energy efficiency investment, and expansion of funding for policies that already decarbonize homes, with the government expecting to recoup some of the money spent on ensuring the price through energy savings. .

She said the government also needed to open up low-cost financing to private homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. It needed to ensure long-term policy stability to make sure companies investing in the sector, address skills shortages, push ahead with minimum efficiency rules for private rental homes, and expedite the introduction of high standards for new buildings, as well as enforcement to make sure the standards were met.

“Collectively, these measures can protect the UK’s financial health in the near term while building long-term energy security and permanently reducing UK emissions,” Deppen told the chancellor in the letter.