Missing in action
8th Nov 2021
Now the dust has settled on the Heat and Buildings Strategy, there is an apparent void. Something has gone missing in action, namely the mention of energy efficiency. That’s not to say the words were absent, just the opposite, 274 times it was mentioned, but it is deeds, not words that matter.
England is particularly badly served in not having a dedicated taxpayer-funded energy efficiency programme in place, compared to the devolved nations. Indeed the Boiler Upgrade Plan, worth £450 million over 3 years, could have been better spent on free insulation measures. Rather than subsidising 30,000 heat pump installations a year, saving 71,000 tonnes of carbon it could have bought loft insulation for half a million homes, saving £135 a year on energy bills and a total of 290,000 tonnes of carbon.
So what is it about energy efficiency that government turns a blind eye to?
I’m told that loft and cavity wall insulation is too boring to get Ministerial support. Yes, it’s worthy but dull. It is more exciting to be associated with something new rather than something old school.
This would imply the government care more about headlines than actual delivery of Net Zero; after all, you wouldn’t get the Prime Minister disappearing from COP26 in a private plane, not a slower train, to get to London for dinner, would you?
Economic energy efficiency measures are essential if we are serious about Net Zero. They reduce carbon emissions, also lowering bills, and by reducing demand, they contribute to a more energy secure system for all. Every aspect of the trilemma met. That’s why it’s so disappointing to see a lack of leadership on this.
Reducing domestic heat demand by 10 per cent across the board may not appear a big deal, but it is 30 TWhs of energy we don’t need to supply. In terms of carbon saving, it is the equivalent of switching 5.5 million boilers to heat pumps – it is a big deal.
Mike Foster, CEO
And whatever technology we think might will form the basis of future heat requirements, homes that are more efficient will make it easier to hit net zero. That is the tragedy of this policy going missing in in action.