New Which? report reveals successive government policies have failed to improve the energy efficiency of the majority of Britain’s homes and will have cost consumers an estimated £8.4bn by 2015.
Successive governments have put in place schemes designed to help people make their homes more energy efficient but more than half (14 million) of Britain’s 27 million homes still do not have adequate insulation.
The fourth and final report in our “Imbalance of Power” series – The Challenge of Energy Efficiency – reveals the total cost of all of these policies is expected to have topped an estimated £8.4 billion from 2008 to 2015. However, this hasn’t been closely and comprehensively monitored so it’s impossible to know precisely how much they cost and whether they provide value for money.
Which? consistently finds in our monthly tracking that rising energy prices are the top worry for consumers, with trust in the energy industry currently at rock bottom. In our latest survey an overwhelming majority (81%)1 said that if the Chancellor cut the costs of energy bills at the Autumn Statement, it would make a difference to their standard of living. Of these, nearly six in ten (57%) said it would make a “great difference”.
Making the housing stock more energy efficient has a crucial part to play in helping people with their energy costs. Our research finds four in ten2 say they can’t guard against rising costs simply by reducing the energy they use as they have already cut down.
Today Which? is calling for a radical change in the way energy efficiency measures are delivered, targeted and evaluated.
Among our recommendations, we want to see:
- The Chancellor implement immediate reforms to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) at the Autumn Statement, as too much is focused on expensive measures. In the short term, the Carbon Saving Obligation element of ECO should be prioritised for low cost energy saving measures, saving between £242m-£363m a year, helping at least the same number of households and still meeting its carbon targets;
- Firm insulation targets, prioritising urgent delivery of low cost measures like loft and cavity wall insulation and regular reports against progress;
- Immediate changes to the Green Deal to make it a better and fairer deal, reducing the risk of customers losing out financially and of suffering from poor terms like unfair exit fees;
- The National Audit Office given the power to monitor and scrutinise energy policy costs in the round to ensure they deliver value for money.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:
“Saving energy to save money is a no brainer but so far no Government has got a proper grip on energy efficiency, despite schemes costing consumers billions.
“We’re calling on the Chancellor to use his Autumn Statement to take action, by cutting the cost of Government energy policies down to size.
“With rising energy prices consistently the top worry for people it’s time for a radical overhaul of energy efficiency policies to help the millions of hard-pressed consumers who are facing another freezing winter.”
Notes for editors:
1. Which?’s fourth and final energy report in the “Imbalance of Power” series.
2. For more information on our energy campaign, “Cut them down, George” click here
3. Survey results:
1 – Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed a representative sample of 2,126 UK adults online between 22nd and 24th November 2013. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults.
2 – Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed a representative sample of 2,018 GB adults online between 18th and 20th October 2013.
Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
4. Breakdown of £8.4bn figure:
Estimated CERT/CESP costs from 2008–2012: £5.5bn [Source: Extending the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target to December 2012, DECC Final Impact Assessment, 2010]
Estimated ECO costs from 2013-2015: £2.9bn [Source: Final Green Deal and ECO Impact Assessment, DECC, June 2012]
Estimated total cost: £8.4bn