Energy efficiency policy needs to be “smart”

8th May 2017


It should go without saying that government policies should be intelligent, clever – well “smart”. And I’m not just talking about being well thought out, but well targeted too.

Last week we held a meeting with BEIS officials and presented some data to them which showed why “smart” needs to be at the heart of energy efficiency policy.

We looked at the off-gas grid sector, and how the housing composition and household characteristics differed from those on the gas grid. Let me share some of the data, so you too can get the picture.

Off grid homes are disproportionately older. Across Britain, 21 per cent of homes were built pre 1919 but for those using heating oil that figure was 40 per cent and solid fuel 43 per cent. In England, 9 per cent of homes are bungalows, but for LPG users 39 per cent live in bungalows and for heating oil that figure is 20 per cent.

Off grid householders tend to be older too. Across Britain, 25 per cent of households are over 60 years of age; for LPG users that figure is 47 per cent, heating oil 40 per cent, 39 per cent for solid fuel and 38 per cent electric.

And the income of off grid households is unevenly distributed. For the lowest two deciles, but 33 per cent of LPG and electric users, and 25 per cent of solid fuel users fall into these bottom two deciles. For the top earning decile, heating oil users comprise 18 per cent and LPG 16 per cent, compared to just 6 per cent for solid fuel and 4 per cent electric.

Sorry – a barrage of statistics. But it points to just how “smart” policy must be to improve the energy efficiency of our homes. One size clearly will not fit all. It also suggests that using traditional economic appraisal will not deliver the sea-change we need either. Having a low income, and being over 60 years old, is hardly the easiest group to suggest they invest in energy efficiency measures, yet they are probably the most in need. And when the economic rationale is not working, then government needs to step up to the plate. Let’s see over the coming weeks of campaigning how “smart” their policies might be.


Best wishes

Mike Foster, CE