ACE Research, in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust and Solstice Associates developed a Renewable Heat Incentive calculator for DECC and the Scottish Government. The tool was designed to provide a reliable estimate of the domestic RHI payments for biomass systems, ground and air source heat pumps and solar thermal systems.
Today ACE and the Energy Bill Revolution publish a set of slides and a briefing which assess the impact of the Government’s current energy efficiency policies and compare them against past performance and what needs to happen to effectively tackle fuel poverty and meet the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change.
We find that the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal represent a significant loss of momentum in the deployment of energy efficiency measures compared to previous energy efficiency programmes, especially when considering the large energy efficiency potential still available in the housing stock.
The recent cuts proposed to the ECO are exacerbating this loss of momentum, and the introduction of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is not enough to turn it around. This means that carbon targets recommended by the Committee on Climate Change will be missed and that fuel poverty will worsen.
We are calling for:
- All low income households to have their homes improved up to an Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2025;
- One million homes per year across the socio-economic spectrum to be upgraded with deep retrofits by 2020;
- Home energy efficiency to be made a national infrastructure priority – a call to which Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, is ‘extremely attracted’.
Commissioned by the Green Construction Board’s Valuation & Demand Group, ACE Research, in partnership with Sweett Group, has delivered a comprehensive but high level qualitative and quantitative review of energy policies targeted at residential buildings over the last 20 years. Throughout, the work was informed and guided by stakeholders in government, industry and the NGO sector.
The main purpose of the work is to support the civil service to maintain a long view on ‘what works’ in residential energy efficiency programmes as staff are turned over. The outputs have been brought together in an interactive dashboard designed as a tool to bring officials up to speed on residential energy efficiency programmes quickly. This is accompanied by a full report and an executive summary. To date, the tool has been presented to, and tested with, DECC, BIS, the Cabinet Office.
Download the project’s resources below, and let us know what you think:
Bozhidar Bozhkov joined ACE this spring for an internship. He is an MSc student in Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment at the Energy Institute of University College London. Currently, he is working on his dissertation project and a joint briefing paper with ACE (based on the dissertation), which is intended to offer a systemic review of the Green Deal energy efficiency programme. To achieve a panoramic review of the policy, a number of interviews with experts from government, industry and consumer society will be brought together in an innovative conceptual framework that will capture the intricate dynamics steering the Green Deal’s emerging story.
Families in fuel poverty are an important policy issue. ACE research has shown that there are currently 2.23 million children, in 1.08 million families, in fuel poverty (close to half the total number of households, as newly defined) in England. Fuel poverty has severe and long-lasting effects, including on children’s respiratory problems, mental health, hospital admission rates, developmental status, educational attainment and emotional well-being, among other impacts.
Last year, ACE estimated that only 2.9% of energy assistance budgets would reach fuel poor families. The recent “Behind Cold Doors” report by The Children’s Society showed that 1.9 million children living in poverty in the UK were in families that missed out on a Warm Home Discount (a key form of fuel poverty assistance) in 2013/14. For these reasons, take-up of fuel poverty assistance among families is a key concern for policy-makers, service providers and energy companies.
In this context, Eaga Charitable Trust is funding The Children’s Society and the Association for the Conservation of Energy to carry out the project “Reaching fuel poor families: Informing new approaches to promoting take-up of fuel poverty assistance among families with children”. This research will review a range of fuel poverty schemes aimed at families, especially those run through Children’s Centres. It will also involve an in-depth evaluation of one specific scheme based in Mortimer House Children’s Centre, a centre in Bradford run by The Children’s Society.
The project will provide recommendations for this specific scheme, and inform a potential roll-out to other centres. It will also draw lessons of broader relevance to fuel poverty schemes aimed at families, to help in the design and delivery of effective programmes in future.
What skills and know-how do people use to keep warm at home? Where does this knowledge come from? These questions are addressed in a new article by ACE researcher Sarah Royston, published in the journal Energy Research and Social Science.
Keeping warm at home means managing heat flows – making sure that heat is where it is needed, when it is needed. In doing this, we interact with a wide range of objects, appliances and building features, from long-johns to loft insulation, and from hair-dryers to heat pumps.
Managing heat flows is something we do almost all the time, often without thinking much about it (by opening a window, or putting on a jumper, for example). But many of the things we do to keep warm involve some kind of practical knowledge or know-how. For example, we might know how to adjust the settings on a storage heater, programme the central heating, or light a fire. Equally we might know how to find and block draughts, or fashion an improvised bed-warmer from an old sock filled with rice.
This article explores the many kinds of know-how involved in keeping homes warm, and how these are learned through experience. The senses are important here – for example, we might use visible “dragon breath” as an indicator of cold. The article also looks at how changes such as moving house or having children can affect know-how, and reflects on what these ideas might mean for research, policy and practice on sustainable energy use.
You can read the full article (currently free) here.
Our partners, the Energy Saving Trust asked us to work with them to create a new Home Energy Check tool. Their previous tool had a high drop-out rate due to the number of questions that had to be answered, a key requirement was to provide results for those that wanted results quickly.
Energy Saving Trust is a social enterprise that offers impartial advice to communities and households on how to reduce carbon emissions, use water more sustainably and save money on energy bills. Their Home Energy Check helps people to find out the overall energy efficiency of their home, and the carbon emissions they produce. They can then see what improvements they can make – to use less energy, save on carbon emissions, improve their Energy Performance Certificate rating, and save money. They take away a full report with all the details of their home’s energy use and the savings they could make.
Try the Home Energy Check here.
Consumer Futures commissioned ACE Research to model the cost and impact of introducing ambitious new fuel poverty targets. This new report presents the results of the research, as introduced by William Baker, Head of Fuel Poverty Policy at Consumer Futures, below.
In the context of a growing political debate regarding the best way to cut energy bills, this briefing shows that a family could be wasting around 41% of their gas every year if they live in a typical fuel poor home, due to a low standard of energy efficiency. They could save 41% of their gas costs each year by installing energy efficiency measures. There are over 6.7 million homes in England (one in three) which have very poor levels of energy efficiency, representing an E, F or G rating on an Energy Performance Certificate. In England, 1.41 million fuel poor homes (more than half) fall into this category.
If a family turn their heating on at the start of October, then that 41% saving is the equivalent of all their gas costs from the 14th of February until the next October. If they installed efficiency measures, it would be like having free heating and hot water from the 14th of February onwards. We could say that everything they spend on gas after that date is wasted money – so the 14th of February is ‘Burning Cash Day’.
The savings from energy efficiency vary between different homes, so every home has its own Burning Cash Day. Even in a home which has an average level of energy efficiency (including at least some loft and cavity wall insulation) the family could still save 25% of their gas bill, through additional measures. This means that Burning Cash Day for this typical home is the 22nd of March.
The Energy Bill Revolution campaign is calling for major Government investment to provide energy efficiency measures for free for people in fuel poverty, and to provide subsidies for everyone else. It is proposed that this is paid for by recycling revenues from two carbon taxes that are paid by consumers – the European Emissions Trading Scheme and the Carbon Price Floor. Over the next 15 years the Government will raise an average of £4 billion every year in carbon taxes; this is enough revenue to insulate to a high degree an average of 600,000 fuel poor homes every year. In time, every household could benefit, and see major reductions in their energy bills.
In early 2013, ACE Research and the Energy Bill Revolution published a fact-file on families and fuel poverty. This new briefing serves to update last year’s headline figures for the number of households, people, families, and children in fuel poverty to 2014. It does so for the UK, as well as for the devolved nations where appropriate.
There are now two high-level fuel poverty definitions in use in the UK. The original definition, that of a household having to spend over 10% of its disposable income to pay for adequate energy services, has (with minor variations) been retained in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Although the Department of Energy and Climate Change still report fuel poverty in England against this definition, it has now formally adopted a new definition of fuel poverty in England, based on the recommendations of the Hills Review into the measurement of fuel poverty.
This briefing provides estimates for the level of fuel poverty (under the original definition) at the start of 2014 for the UK and its nations. In addition, it provides an estimate for fuel poverty under the new definition in England. The following factors make a 2014 update on last year’s estimates pertinent:
- Energy suppliers announced significant price rises at the end of 2013. Some of these price rises have been claimed by suppliers to be smaller than they otherwise would have been, as they have pre-empted Government reductions to ‘green levies’. Government proposals for reducing levies were made subsequent to the price rises at the end of 2013;
- The rate at which energy bill-reducing measures are being delivered slowed down considerably in 2013 compared to previous years;
- And average real earnings have remained largely flat
Energy prices, energy performance of housing and incomes are the three factors that together determine the level, depth, and nature of fuel poverty, whichever definition is used. The estimates in this briefing compare the state of fuel poverty now to that of 12 months ago, and to 2011, the year for which the latest official estimates of fuel poverty are available.