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Our response to BEIS’s consultation on ECO: Help to Heat

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a programme to deliver energy efficiency measures in homes across Great Britain in order to reduce carbon emissions and improve the ability of low income and vulnerable consumers to heat their homes to comfortable levels. ECO was launched in January 2013 and is currently in its second obligation period (ECO2), which is due to end on 31 March 2017. The Government’s Spending Review 2015 announced plans for a supplier obligation to run for 5 years from April 2017 at an estimated level of £640 million per year. This consultation is on the shape of a transitional year from April 2017 to March 2018, paving the way for a subsequent 4-year scheme

While the overall size of the supplier obligation from 2017 is too small, many of the changes proposed appear sensible. However, under the proposals, there will be significant under-delivery to households during the transition year. This is due to the progress made to date under ECO2, the potential for over-delivery and carryover of excess work into the transition year, and the fact that proposed deemed scores are approximately one third lower than the evidence from RdSAP assessments under ECO2. We therefore strongly recommend that the extended CERO target is increased from 3MtCO2 to at least 4.1MtCO2, and the HHCRO target from £1.84bn to at least £2.08bn. This would comfortably keep the transition year’s delivery costs within its notional spending limits, and make sure BEIS and ECO’s stakeholders deliver what is possible with the (too modest) budget limits established by the last Comprehensive Spending Review.

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#LocalStories

"London Skyline" (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Raphael Faeh

London Local Story: A world-class city, but its buildings lag behind

ACE’s latest Local Story, on energy efficiency in London, has found that despite London’s world status, many of its homes and workplaces are highly inefficient, leading to inflated fuel bills, squeezed family budgets, ill health and reduced business competitiveness.

The challenge London set itself in its 2011 Climate Change and Energy Strategy is ambitious. To reduce the city’s CO2 emissions, the target for buildings is to retrofit 2.9 million homes; retrofit public buildings comprising a total of 11 million m2 of floor space; and retrofit 44 million m2 worth of private sector workplaces by 2025. These 55 million m2 constitute two thirds of London’s current non-domestic stock of buildings. Currently, London is falling well behind on its milestones to 2025, and the rewards of stepping up energy efficiency action in the capital are too good to miss.

Heating, cooling and powering London’s homes and workplaces is costly

  • London’s 3.35 million homes account for 36% of its CO2 emissions, and every household spends on average £1,175 on gas and electricity bills every year – a total of £3.9 billion. Workplaces – 265,000 buildings – account for 42% of London’s emissions, and companies pay a total of £4 billion each year in gas and electricity bills.
  • 830,000 homes (a quarter) and 37% of non-domestic buildings that have been given an Energy Performance Certificate since 2009 have the worst energy ratings of E, F or G and are therefore wasting a large proportion of their energy.
  • 348,000 London households are considered to be fuel poor. This means they can’t afford to keep their homes warm due to a combination of low incomes and high energy costs. In addition to being below the poverty line, each year, they are estimated to have to spend £336 more on their energy than a typical household needs to.

Significant upgrades to the efficiency of London’s buildings have been made in recent years

  • In homes, energy efficiency programmes have helped to insulate 350,000 lofts and 257,000 cavity walls in London. 803,000 efficient boilers have been installed. Also, London’s RE:NEW programme has helped to underpin energy efficiency improvements through advice provision and delivery support in 119,000 homes to date. 400 households have taken up low carbon heating, and 19,000 have installed solar photovoltaic panels.
  • Less is known about improvements made in workplaces. Public buildings’ Display Energy Certificate ratings have been steadily improving since 2009, and London’s RE:FIT programme has underpinned £93m investment in 619 public buildings, cutting annual energy costs by £6.9m. The amount of energy London uses per unit of its economic output has reduced by 40% and its energy consumption has fallen by 16% since 2005.

These improvements bring a wide range of benefits to London

  • London’s homes and workplaces spend upwards of £7.9 billion on energy bills every year – money which doesn’t stay in London’s economy. Improving efficiency and cutting energy costs means more invested in and spent on London’s economy, while further improving its energy productivity and competitiveness
  • Many of these efficiency improvements are delivered by London businesses. An ambitious national retrofit programme for homes, with London taking up its fair share, would support 10,300 jobs in the capital.
  • Thermal comfort in the work environment is now well-established as a real boon to workers’ health, wellbeing and productivity, and cold homes have been shown to be damaging to both physical and mental health. For every £1 invested in renovating cold homes the NHS saves 42 pence in reduced hospital admissions and GP visits.

Millions of homes and businesses still stand to gain from energy efficiency upgrades. A step-change in delivery is needed, combined with a panoramic view and thorough understanding of all the benefits it can bring. Capturing the above benefits simultaneously, by investing in the energy performance of our buildings, will help London to meet its targets, maintain its economic competitiveness and to be a place that people want – and can afford – to live and work.

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Brexit,European Energy Efficiency Directive,European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive,European Union

eu-flag

New PM must stick to key EU climate change targets for 2020

Irrespective of Brexit, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet must commit to critical EU targets for the year 2020 on cutting carbon emissions and transforming the UK’s energy infrastructure.

This is the call made today (Friday) by 30 environmental and energy-related organisations¹ in a letter² to Greg Clark,  the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Signatories include leading business associations covering the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, two of the UK’s biggest green NGOs and Energy UK, the body representing the  major energy suppliers.

Their letter argues that EU laws and regulations on energy and buildings have played a leading role in enabling the UK to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases and to provide global leadership on climate change.³

Three EU targets for the year 2020 have paved the way for future emission reductions. The signatories say the UK Government should now declare that it is sticking to these, as it prepares to commence exit negotiations from the union, to give badly-needed confidence to businesses and investors.

The three targets are:

  • 15% of all energy used for electricity, transport and heating should come from renewable energy sources (under the Renewables Energy Directive)
  • UK final energy consumption should fall to 129.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent or less (the Energy Efficiency Directive)
  • All new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by the end of 2020 (by the end of 2018 for public buildings) (The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive)

The letter says that a combination of EU and UK laws, regulations and policies have given businesses, investors and consumers the confidence to begin putting the UK on the path towards a low carbon future.

“Following the referendum, it is now critical that Government restores this already-eroded confidence by giving an assurance that, until the terms of leaving the EU are in place, all relevant EU directives and targets are still in place and the UK Government is legally obliged to continue to meet them.”

Dr Joanne Wade, CEO of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, says: “The Brexit vote has caused industry uncertainty. Government must move quickly to confirm it will continue on a clear path to meeting key energy targets.”

Sue Riddlestone, Chief Executive of sustainability charity Bioregional, says: “Cutting emissions is the pathway to secure, affordable energy for the UK in the long term as well as tackling climate change. We need a firm commitment to these long-agreed targets for 2020.”

Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said: “For the sake of jobs and investor confidence the Government cannot afford to row back on the EU 2020 renewables targets.”

Contacts:

  • Nicholas Schoon, Policy and Communications Manager, Bioregional, 07732 381728
  • Jenny Holland, Campaigns Director, Association for the Conservation of Energy, 0207 359 8000, 07875 629781, jenny@ukace.org

[1] SIGNATORIES

  • Ashden
  • Association for the Conservation of Energy
  • Bioregional
  • British Blind and Shutter Association
  • British Pump Manufacturers Association
  • British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers Association
  • Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency
  • Centre for Sustainable Energy
  • Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
  • E3G
  • Energy Saving Trust
  • Energy Systems Trade Association
  • Energy UK
  • Existing Homes Alliance Scotland
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Glass and Glazing Federation
  • Greenpeace
  • Insulated Render and Cladding Association
  • Lighting Industry Association
  • Mineral Wool Manufacturers Association
  • National Energy Foundation
  • National Insulation Association
  • Oil Firing Technical Association
  • Property and Energy Professionals Association
  • Regen SW
  • Renewable Energy Association
  • Solar Trade Association
  • Sustainable Energy Association
  • Thermal Insulation Consortium
  • Town & Country Planning Association

[2]  TEXT OF LETTER

Dear Mr Clark,

We would like to warmly congratulate you on your appointment as the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and wish you well in this important new post.

We welcome the 29 June statement of Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, that the UK government would not step back from international leadership in acting on climate change.

We agree that both the UK and the EU have been world leaders in addressing the enormous challenge posed by climate change. UK leadership has stemmed from the combination of EU and UK laws,  regulations and policies. Together these have given businesses, investors and consumers the confidence to begin putting the UK economy and infrastructure on the path towards a low carbon future.

Following the referendum, it is now critical that Government restores this already-eroded confidence by giving an assurance that, until the terms of leaving the EU are in place, all relevant EU directives and targets are still in place and the UK Government is legally obliged to continue to meet them.

In particular, we call upon the Government to commit to hitting 2020 targets under the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive:

  • 15% of all energy used for electricity, transport and heating should come from renewable energy sources
  • UK final energy consumption should fall to 129.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent or less
  • All new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by the end of 2020 (by the end of 2018 for public buildings)

These targets make a key contribution towards implementing the UK’s world-leading Climate Change Act 2008 – pioneering legislation which requires ever-lower UK emissions in successive five-year carbon budgets. The policies and regulations required to meet these budgets have all been set in the context of EU law and policies on energy and climate.

Yours sincerely,

[3]  Between 1990 and 2014, the latest year for which final figures are available, UK territorial emissions of greenhouse gases fell by 35%. Between 2000 and 2014 they fell by 28%.

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PRS

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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