A new report by the Association for the Conservation of Energy has shone a spotlight on the energy performance of homes in the Wells constituency. The report, which has been welcomed by local MP James Heappey and by Warmer Improved Somerset Homes (WISH), a local front-line scheme delivering warmer homes, shows how tens of thousands of local residents have benefited in recent years from proper insulation and efficient boilers, making their homes more affordable to heat and safer to live in. But the report also highlights that residents in Mid-Somerset have seen half as many improvements per household from recent schemes when compared to the national average. It goes on to identify the huge untapped potential for delivering to the remaining residents the benefits their neighbours have seen.
Residents in the Wells constituency have to spend a staggering £72 million on their fuel bills each year. Over recent years national schemes – working hand in hand with dedicated local businesses and charities – have helped offset this by insulating 9,000 lofts and 7,000 cavity walls, while 11,000 efficient boilers have been installed. This has benefited local people in a whole range of ways – combating the health problems associated with cold homes, creating skilled local jobs and diverting money previously spent on fuel bills into local shops and businesses.
But much more remains to be done, the report says. Around 4,000 homes in the area are so poorly insulated they are in urgent need of upgrades. Some of those will belong to poorer households who struggle to meet the cost of their bills. The Government recently wound down some of the energy efficiency schemes introduced in the last Parliament meaning that public funding for these measures is harder to access.
Lisa Evans, Programme Manager of Warmer Improved Somerset Homes (WISH), said: “Our scheme is a one-stop shop for energy efficiency advice and we’ve helped over 1,000 households in the two years the scheme has been running. But reductions in funding mean we now struggle to take on more cases. I welcome this report, which highlights the massive benefits to local residents of home upgrades and shows how more of the same could cut bills and improve residents’ health and well-being.”
Wells MP and Energy Select Committee member James Heappey added:
“This report is a very welcome and useful snapshot of the energy efficiency of housing stock in the constituency. I commend local installers and scheme managers who’ve done so much over recent years to help my constituents live in warmer, healthier homes. There are clear benefits in making your home more energy efficient and these benefits extend well beyond simply saving money from your bills.”
“The Government is right to review energy efficiency policy as too much of the money was going in to the insulation of homes whose owners could have afforded to do it themselves and too little was going towards the homes of those who were in fuel poverty. The Energy Select Committee has had a good look at this area of policy and I look forward to working with the Government, the Association for the Conservation of Energy and local practitioners to ensure that new policy targets the fuel poor and allows many more of them to benefit.”