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Jenny Holland

Please ask Ballot MPs to adopt Leasehold Reform (Energy Efficiency) Bill

In today’s House of Commons Private Members’ Ballot, some fortunate MPs got the chance to introduce a Bill of their own in Parliament.  ACE – along with, among others, the Energy Saving Trust and the London Association of Local Energy Officers – is promoting the Leasehold Reform (Energy Efficiency) Bill, and we’d be grateful for your help in getting an MP to take it up!  The Bill would sweep away outdated provisions in property leases to enable freeholders and leaseholders alike to make their homes warmer, healthier and more comfortable.  Here is a full briefing about the Bill.  And here is a list of the successful MPs for you to use.  Thank you!

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London, Battersea at night

Can the next Mayor make London a world-leading city for energy efficiency?

There are around 775,000 homes in London with a poor energy efficiency rating. We need investment in these homes to transform them into comfortable, healthy dwellings that are a pleasure to live in, contribute to managing our carbon emissions, and are resilient to future energy price rises. There can be a tendency to see London’s homes as too hard or expensive to treat, but let’s stop and think about that for a minute. Yes, there are around 800,000 homes that are in need of solid wall insulation, but there are also over 750,000 that could benefit from cavity wall insulation and over 500,000 that could use improved levels of loft insulation. And having a solid wall home doesn’t mean you can’t reach a reasonable level of energy efficiency. I’ve seen Energy Performance Certificates for London semis giving them C ratings or above, and there are 40 homes in London in the SuperHomes database.

It’s harder to find comprehensive statistics on the state of the non-domestic stock, but 70% of Display Energy Certificates and 66% of Non-Domestic Energy Performance Certificated lodged across London have a rating of D or below.

Domestic EPCs rated E, F or G

Domestic EPCs rated E, F or G

Display Energy Certificates rated E, F or G

Display Energy Certificates rated E, F or G

So, can the next Mayor build on what Boris has started, through RE:NEW and RE:FIT?  The front-runners certainly seem to think so, judging from their manifestos. Zac Goldsmith wants ‘London’s homes to be as energy efficient as possible’ and wants to trial low interest loans, stamp duty rebates and council tax rebates, as well as applying the Dutch Energiesprong model to retrofit London’s tower blocks. He has also pledged to include minimum energy efficiency standards in the London Rental Standard and to back the London Plan’s commitment to Zero Carbon Homes. Sadiq Khan plans to establish Energy for Londoners – ‘a not-for-profit company providing a comprehensive range of energy services to help Londoners generate more low-carbon energy and increase their energy efficiency’. He also refers to energy efficiency standards for new developments and commits to ‘make sure City Hall and all other GLA buildings maintain the highest environmental standards on heating, lighting and waste.’

All interesting ideas, with potential, but they are only a start. We look forward to working with the next Mayor to help make sure that not only do their current ideas achieve their potential, but also that the level of ambition is raised and London becomes a world leader in its low energy building stock. As a start, we have called for the next Mayor to introduce a London-wide minimum efficiency standard for rented homes of EPC Band C by 2025. The opportunity for improvement outlined at the beginning of this blog translates to £4.7bn investment in London’s built infrastructure, would directly support the full-time employment of 2,800 Londoners, along with a further 13,000 jobs up and down the supply chains, each year from now to 2030; not to mention the increased health and wellbeing that comes from living and working in buildings with high energy performance. An opportunity like this must not be missed.

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Greater London Authority,Private Rented Sector

fuel poverty

A Warm Deal for London’s Renters

The need for a London-wide minimum energy efficiency standard

It is a shocking fact that hundreds of thousands of London’s renters are shivering in damp, draughty homes they can’t afford to heat. This problem could be solved by effective minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector – but national standards are weak and difficult to enforce, leaving households at the mercy of their landlords.

ACE is asking the next Mayor to stand up for London’s renters and pledge to introduce a London-wide minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes, of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2025.  See our full ask here.

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panorama

Treasury slammed following 9,000 cold home deaths

The Treasury was strongly criticised this week after a Panorama investigation revealed that over 9,000 people in England and Wales died from living in cold homes last winter.

The Panorama programme, ‘Too Poor to Stay Warm’, broadcast on Monday, cited research by academics at UCL which shows that a fifth of the 43,900 Excess Winter Deaths in Winter 2014/15 were due to people living in cold homes.

Yet Government support for energy efficiency has crashed by 80%. Making homes energy efficient is considered by experts as the only long term solution to fuel poverty, which affects over 4 million households in the UK.  The UK has one of the oldest and least energy efficient building stocks in Europe.

In our own research published earlier this week, also reported in The Guardian, we found that:

  • the number of energy efficiency measures installed in British homes has fallen by 80% since 2012
  • the number of households helped with energy efficiency measures has crashed by 76%
  • investment in home energy efficiency has declined by over 50%

We also found that the very low level of energy efficiency support now on offer is set to continue for the rest of this Parliament. During the last Parliament 5 million households were helped but we estimate that only 1.2 million households will receive energy efficiency measures this Parliament.

The Government axed Warm Front during the last Parliament, and the Green Deal and Green Deal Home Improvement Fund last year.  It also axed the UK’s zero carbon policy for new homes. Only the Energy Company Obligation is left, a levy on energy bills that was slashed in the Spending Review in December 2015.

A major alliance of 200 organisations and businesses under the Energy Bill Revolution banner is calling on the Government to make home energy efficiency an infrastructure priority. It is the most popular energy solution in the UK today with support across Parliament.

But the Treasury has refused to allocate one penny of the £120bn infrastructure budget to make homes energy efficient, despite the fact energy efficiency is classified as infrastructure by both the International Energy Agency and the European Investment Bank. According to the Government’s own economic data, making homes energy efficient also provides comparable economic returns to other infrastructure projects like roads and railways.

Jenny Holland, Head of Campaigns at ACE, said: “Our research findings are truly shocking. The UK has some of the worst housing stock in Europe, with levels of fuel poverty unheard of in much colder countries like Sweden. And UCL’s findings make clear that our cold homes were responsible for 9,000 avoidable deaths last winter. But Treasury help to upgrade our freezing homes has been slashed to the bone. The Government has pledged to make all fuel poor homes energy efficient by 2030, but without new funding, it will take them 94 years to meet their pledge. This is simply not good enough. By making energy efficiency an infrastructure priority, the Treasury could transform the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens, making their fuel bills affordable and greatly reducing the risk of cold-related illness.

Ed Matthew, Director of the Energy Bill Revolution alliance said: “The decision by Treasury to decimate energy efficiency support will cost lives. Yet making UK homes energy efficient provides strong economic returns, as much as any other infrastructure project. But Osborne has chosen to invest £50 billion in HS2, £30 billion in road building and not one penny of the infrastructure budget in retrofitting the crumbling UK building stock. Perhaps he thinks there are more votes for the Conservatives by shaving a few minutes off a railway ride than saving the lives of the fuel poor.

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#LocalStories

"Winter Lake" (CC BY 2.0) by Dave Stokes

Local stories – Energy Efficiency in Bracknell

Our latest local report, on energy efficiency in Bracknell – the fourth in a series of area reports –  is out now. We’re really grateful for the contributions from Bracknell Forest Council, InstaGroup and the Thames Valley Vision project.

BracknellHazel Hill, Bracknell Forest Sustainability Officer, said: “I have seen first-hand how having energy efficiency measures installed can help homes feel warmer, save money and improve people’s lives. Bracknell Forest Council’s Warm and Well scheme, which ran for two years, was a great success and was able to help almost 300 households. However, due to the short term nature of current funding mechanisms, schemes such as Warm and Well can only run for short periods, which limits the number of people they can help. 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.”

TVVCharlie Edwards, Customer Project Manager at Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution said: “As network operators, we are faced with a range of opportunities and challenges to help bring about more sustainable, reliable and cost-effective electricity solutions for our customers. Thames Valley Vision, centred within Bracknell, is just one example of the innovative projects being run all across the UK. Working closely with the local council, businesses and over 300 project participants across Bracknell, the project is helping a wide range of customers make use of low-carbon technologies in order to improve their energy efficiency.”

Snug logoBradley Isaacs, Operations Manager at InstaGroup, said:“InstaGroup’s workforce has huge pride in their work and in the visible improvements they have been able to make to their local area. But the last 12 months have been hard for businesses like ours so it’s great to see a report like this which proves that there is so muchmore that could be done in the area.” InstaGroup’s nationwide network of independent installers, the Snug Network, has also posted the Bracknell report.

Bracknell MP Dr Phillip Lee added: “I welcome the report by the Association for the Conservation of Energy, which sheds light on the energy efficiency of the housing stock and businesses across the Bracknell constituency. As a former member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee I take an interest in the energy sector and advancements in energy-saving technology. I commend the work that local installers and programme managers have done in recent years to implement energy saving features in homes, such as better insulation and more efficient boilers. I believe the Government is right to review energy efficiency policy to ensure better targeting and I look forward to working with both Government colleagues and local practitioners to ensure that more local people benefit.”

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#LocalStories

"Cross Fell snow" (CC BY-NC 2.0) by  HeandFi

Local stories – Energy Efficiency in Penrith and The Border

Our area report on energy efficiency in Penrith and The Border is the third constituency-focused report in our series. Using a combination of national datasets containing constituency-level information, and case studies from local practitioners, we hope there is something of interest for everyone living in and around the area, and are pleased to have seen Cumbria Crack cover it.

CAfSWe spoke to Andrew Northcott, project manager of the Cold to Cosy Homes scheme, who said: “Local householders really appreciate our visits – it gives them confidence to make the changes they need to keep their bills down and homes warm. But to reach the most vulnerable people, we need referrals from other services like the NHS. That’s why this report is so useful, as it will help us highlight the benefits of energy efficiency to a wider audience.”

We are also grateful for Hazel Collingwood’s time. Hazel is the Health and Wellbeing Coordinator for Eden at Age UK Carlisle and Eden, and said: “Having a warm home is an important factor when we assess an older person’s wellbeing. Even Age UK Carlisle and Edensmall changes, such as excluding draughts, can make a huge difference”. However Hazel is concerned that support is not always reaching people in the rural areas she works in. “There are a lot of people in this area that are very isolated. These people really need to be helped more. It is great that a report like this can draw attention to the particular issues that affect people here.”

Do you live in the area, and have any energy efficiency-related stories you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!

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Joanne Wade

“Lumbered with a backward-looking mindset”

Speaking at an event on delivering heat networks in Parliament today – organised and hosted by the Centre on Innovation in Energy Demand; Reframing Energy Demand: Innovation for Sustainable Heat; the UK Energy Research Centre; and the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology – ACE Director Joanne Wade made reference to an interesting and pertinent speech on energy given by David Cameron to the Local Government Association in 2006 (thanks to Electrical Review’s Gossage column in its Jan/Feb 2016 edition).

Cameron said that “where the [Labour] government sees nuclear power as the first choice, under our framework it would become a last resort.” “In Britain we are still lumbered with the same backward-looking, central-planning mindset that has dominated thinking on electricity since the first half of the last  century.” He concluded: “The future of energy is not top-down, it’s not centralised – it’s bottom-up and decentralised.”

In our view, very 21st century, but practitioners in energy efficiency, heat networks and renewables would be forgiven for thinking this is not the philosophy underpinning energy policy today. Let’s make sure it will be again.

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energy auditing,energy management,energy reporting,Non-Domestic

HMT

Our response to HMT and DECC’s consultation on reforming the business energy efficiency tax landscape

ACE has submitted its response to HM Treasury and DECC’s consultation on reforming the business energy efficiency tax landscape. We agree there is scope to simplify the landscape, but stress that in doing so, there is real emphasis on reporting publicly with board approval and ensure that cost-effective energy efficiency recommendations are acted upon.

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Display Energy Certificates,Energy Performance Certificates,European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive,Zero Carbon Homes

European-Commission-Logo-square

Our response to the European Commission’s consultation on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

This consultation forms part of the evaluation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Under the terms of the Directive, the Commission is required to carry out this evaluation by 1 January 2017, with assistance from a Committee of Member States’ representatives. The evaluation should reflect the experience gained and progress made since the adoption of the Directive. If necessary, the Commission should make proposals on the basis of the evaluation.

The evaluation also follows on from the Energy Efficiency Communication of July 2014, which indicated that additional measures to be introduced to improve energy efficiency would need to primarily address the energy efficiency of buildings and products if progress is to be made by 2030. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is the main legislative instrument in force at EU level covering the energy efficiency of buildings.

With a primary focus the UK energy efficiency market, our response to the consultation highlights: the uncertainty following the abandonment of the zero carbon trajectory; the missed opportunities with respect to driving higher rates of renovation; the low level of compliance with EPBD’s provisions and the virtual absence of enforcement; the question marks hanging over Display Energy Certificates; the need to make EPC data more widely accessible; and the need to plug skills and capacity shortages in the energy services and energy auditing sectors.

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parliament_logo

Our response to Energy & Climate Change Committee’s inquiry into investor confidence in the UK energy sector

The Energy & Climate Change Committee is investigating the factors that contribute to investor confidence in the energy sector and wants to build an understanding of how DECC’s policy making process might impact on investor decisions.

DECC estimates that £110 billion investment is needed in our electricity infrastructure over the next decade. Stakeholders’ concerns that policy uncertainty was weakening the case for investment have led the Committee to prioritise the issue of investor confidence – without it, we hamper our ability to meet climate, energy security and affordability objectives. Energy efficiency and demand reduction is the cheapest contributor to these objectives, and this is what we highlight in our written response to the inquiry.

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