The Energy Saving Trust (EST) says that people who want to take action to reduce their residential carbon emissions face a “regulatory jungle”, so here are some ideas for clearer, more effective regulation of the main players in the domestic energy efficiency market – local authorities, builders, energy companies and appliance manufacturers and retailers ( leaving out the banks for the moment).
- introducing mandatory energy efficiency requirements for appliance manufacturers and mandatory energy efficiency labelling for retailers (replacing the voluntary EST “recommended” energy efficiency label)
- reinstating public funding for domestic energy efficiency programmes that the coalition government cut in the April 2011 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). The evidence is that far more people insulate their houses when this is funded by grants and carried out by local authorities on a street by street basis. So the CSR cut of 80 per cent of the Leeds City Region local authorities’ funding for domestic energy efficiency programmes probably wasn’t such a great way to go about reducing carbon emissions from residential energy use. The Climate Change Committee which advises the government about how to reduce carbon emissions has recommended that the six big energy companies should have to pay for all the home insulation and energy efficiency improvements needed to meet the 2022 targets for reducing household carbon emissions.
- this would make it possible to abolish the Green Deal, as the Climate Change Committee recommends, given its many weaknesses. These include the fact that households in fuel poverty will be unable to access loans for domestic energy efficiency measures, because their low energy consumption makes it unlikely that they will be able to satisfy the Green Deal “golden rule”, which is that loans are only available to households whose energy savings will cover the cost of repaying the loan.
- making subsidies available for insulation and related repairs during house renovation and re-roofing, and at the same time strengthening Building Regulations about minimum energy efficiency requirements when renovating and re-roofing houses.
- requiring energy companies to increase renewable energy generation, and to stop incentivising high energy use through their perverse pricing policy, which reduces the cost per unit of energy as more is consumed. Instead, wouldn’t it make more sense to set low unit prices for low levels of consumption, and raise the cost per unit as more is consumed?