Gas to the rescue once more

12th Nov 2018

 

Not that long ago, gas was going to be phased out and the energy trilemma was giving Ministers a headache. Once again last week, we saw how things have changed and how Ministers now see gas coming to the rescue for their policy outcomes.

Earlier in the year, the Government consulted upon private rented home energy efficiency performance. They wanted to upgrade EPC levels to a minimum of E for a home to be rented out but consulted on an upper limit of £2500 to finance this. If the upgrade in performance could only be achieved by spending more than this £2500, then the landlord would have a government-backed excuse for not doing so.

Fuel poverty is most acute in the private rented sector, partly because the energy efficiency of the homes are so poor. So the aim is worthy but that financial limit would in our opinion, and that of nearly 80 per cent of respondents, deter action such as fitting a new gas central heating system.

Replacing old inefficient electric heating systems, common in the private rented sector, with a new efficient gas central heating system would at a stroke lift an EPC Band F or G property to E or higher. But that £2500 limit could have reduced the take up.

So I was pleased to read that Ministers had increased the upper limit to £3500. This will mean around 290,000 properties, around 6 per cent of the overall domestic market, can now be affordably improved.

For the tenant, the government estimate energy bills will be £180 a year lower. Often the private rented sector houses the most disadvantaged members of our communities. For them, the £180 saving will be a huge boost. It promises to make significant inroads towards tackling fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions through improved energy efficiency. And yes, gas has once again come to the rescue.