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Insulation the ‘big omission’ in package to bring down energy costs

·3-min read

A lack of efforts to insulate millions of homes to keep them warm and cut bills is the “big omission” in the Government’s energy package, it has been warned.

The measures announced by Liz Truss to tackle sky-high energy bills and ease the cost-of-living crisis focused on capping prices and boosting domestic energy supplies.

That includes lifting the ban on fracking and new licences for North Sea oil and gas, as well as stating support for clean energy sources including nuclear, wind and solar.

But the package set out no new efforts to help households save energy through increased insulation and other efficiency measures that can permanently cut gas use and bills – a key ask from green groups and anti-poverty campaigners.

Juliet Phillips, senior policy adviser at climate think tank E3G, said: “Energy security starts at home, and the lack of reference to energy-saving measures like insulation and heat pumps is the biggest gap in today’s package.

“Through offering permanent bill reductions, energy efficiency offers the best deal for households and for the public purse.

“Fracking and nuclear can’t keep us warm this winter – we urge the Government to announce a new home retrofit scheme as soon as possible.”

Prof Jim Watson, professor of energy policy and director of UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, said: “The big omission from today’s statement is – once again – a renewed plan for home energy efficiency.

“Energy efficiency of UK homes is poor by international standards, and means that energy price shocks hit UK households particularly hard.

“It should be a no brainer for the Government to implement an ambitious new programme, and to reverse a decade of failed policies and inaction.”

Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, said: “To bring down bills for good, we need a street-by-street insulation programme targeted at the neighbourhoods where most homes are poorly insulated.

“There are five million homes without even basic insulation, such as loft or cavity wall insulation, and the Committee on Climate Change has said 15 million homes would benefit from other insulation measures.”

The renewed calls for a greater push on insulation comes after Lord Deben, chairman of the Climate Change Committee, and the National Infrastructure Commission chairman Sir John Armitt wrote to the Prime Minister, urging her to double down on ending the UK’s dependence on gas.

The letter urged her to drive forward efforts to improve insulation for households, the public sector and businesses, and provide advice to the public on low or no-cost ways to save energy.

Responding to the energy package, the director of the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) Sam Hall said: “The Prime Minister’s supply-side revolution to combat the root causes of the gas crisis is sensible.

“But as well as lifting the moratorium on fracking, she should remove barriers to onshore renewables, which are cheaper and more popular. Without these barriers, renewables will outcompete fossil fuels.”

And he said: “In his fiscal event later this month, I hope the Chancellor announces funding for a major insulation scheme.

“Tackling the wasting of gas will reduce the cost of the energy price guarantee to Treasury and improve our energy security.”

Jess Ralston, senior analyst with the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “All the experts and even the industry agree more UK gas won’t bring down British bills.

“To bring down bills we need to use less gas by investing in insulating homes, a measure which could be cost neutral to the Treasury given it will spend billions on the price cap freeze.”

And she warned: “There is a real danger of the Government serving up a red herring with local communities likely to oppose fracking rigs while focus is diverted from efficiency and renewables which can be quick to introduce and are popular, rather than unpopular, with the public.”