A Positive Change for UK Energy Efficiency

On Tuesday in Parliament I introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill asking the government to publish a plan for meeting the domestic energy efficiency targets in the Clean Growth Strategy; to make provision for the monitoring of performance against milestones in the plan and to establish an advisory body for the implementation of the plan.

Securing such a motion is difficult, so why did I choose this subject? Over the last nine years, I have worked with Public Health Cornwall on an innovative partnership that has brought together businesses, Cornwall Council, health, care and emergency service professionals and many voluntary sector organisations to help people out of poverty and to live in warm homes. This Public Health approach has literally saved lives.

Cornwall’s Devolution Deal has enabled greater flexibility in tackling fuel poverty too. The partnership’s work has been funded by a mixture of public funding, Energy Company Obligation, business and voluntary donations. Over 20,000 people have been helped to live in warm homes, including those using energy efficiency measures. In addition, independent evaluation shows that the Winter Wellness Partnership has prevented more than 800 hospital admissions and helped 348 households remain in work or make progress towards work.

In Cornwall, over time, we have shown that working with people on installing energy efficiency measures improves people’s health and wellbeing as well as the environment. I want to ensure we can expand this work.

Home insulation may not capture the imagination as a standard bearer for the fourth industrial revolution in the way that electric cars do, but it will make a huge contribution to our reduction in greenhouse emissions from heating our homes. Energy saving is just as important as generating carbon free and renewable energy as we will need more electricity for new cars, buses and trains.

Last week the Government introduced legislation to end the UK’s contribution to global warming by 2050. This is not only the right thing to do but is both affordable and achievable.

As the Committee on Climate Change noted, a comprehensive energy efficiency programme should be the first and least costly step in getting towards this goal. Research from the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group shows that energy efficiency improvements to homes

could reduce the energy consumed in U.K. households each year by 25% and knock £270 off the average household bill of £1,100 – a saving of the equivalent of six nuclear power stations the size of Hinckley Point C.

There would be strong economic returns of a similar scale to other major infrastructure projects. Appraisal based on HMG methodology finds that the net benefit of this saving would be £7.5 billion – this excludes the wider health and productivity benefits. It has been estimated that for every £1 invested by the government, GDP would be increased by £3.20.

Policy exists for new homes, but we now need to turbo-charge our action on retro-fitting home energy efficiency into all homes, enabling everyone to live in a warm home. I hope my Bill will be the catalyst.

First published in the West Briton on 20/6/2019