On what three carbon saving policies would you spend taxpayers’ money?

6th Nov 2023


Energy efficiency, energy efficiency, energy efficiency would be my answer.

So why do I say this? There are several reasons, all of which avoid stumbling into the hydrogen boiler v heat pump debate – when we all know the answer is both.

So to begin with, energy efficiency improvements can be a worthwhile investment. Whether it is simple economic payback calculations or more sophisticated investment appraisal techniques, loft and cavity wall insulation come out favourably.

They cut bills, permanently, by hundreds of pounds a year, regardless of the choice of heating appliance. Yet 5 million homes in England do not have the recommended level of loft insulation and neither do 4.8 million homes with cavity wall construction have insulation. Given the almost immediate financial payback, why is that?

Let’s recognise too, that reducing energy usage because of better insulation is good for the climate as emissions are lower and that our energy security is improved too, as less energy needs to be imported (or generated at home).

Stating the obvious, but despite the economic payback, some households struggle to find the cash. This is particularly true in the current climate. High interest rates, high levels of inflation and a low growth rate is not the economic backdrop consumers need to give them the confidence to invest to save.

And it’s not just about insulation but also heating system efficiency. Smart controls, regular servicing, low boiler flow temperatures all are relatively affordable ways of keeping bills down by using less energy and reducing emissions too.

So if it was my money, the focus would be on energy efficiency – ‘insulation plus’. A ten-year programme, delivered street by street, house by house led or co-ordinated by trusted local partners, that would be my ideal. It might be boring, it might not have the glamour of new projects but it delivers. It’s worthy and if it was your money, I suspect you would make the same call too.