Can ECO work for those who are able to pay?
Gemserv, working on behalf of EDF Energy, Scottish Power, OVO, and EON released a survey back in June, which covered a proposal for a new £1 billion energy efficiency scheme for the able to pay sector, with the working title of “ECO Plus”. The results of which, will be sent to government.
Gemserv claim that ECO has been “incredibly successful” in installing measures in peoples’ homes and that an expansion of the ECO framework, funded by government, would enable many more households to benefit from improvements to the fabric efficiency of their home. The proposed ECO Plus would not only cover lower cost loft and cavity wall insulation but would also begin to address the 7.5 million uninsulated solid wall homes. It is also hoped that by part funding measures the money will impact more homes.
Martyn Reed, Elmhurst’s Group Managing Director, welcomed the fact that the industry and government were thinking seriously about the ‘able to pay market’: “Social housing stock has become some of the most energy efficient in the country, due to years of investment. We have ECO4 focussing on those in fuel poverty, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) requiring private landlords to improve their buildings, as well as proposals for lenders to promote the average Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) bandings for mortgaged properties.
However, until now, the millions of homes that are owned and occupied but un-mortgaged have been forgotten. These will frequently be older properties which haven’t been bought or sold for many years and therefore don’t have an EPC. To make matters worse, many will be occupied by older, perhaps vulnerable people, without the disposable income to spend, the so called asset rich/cash poor”.
Elmhurst is supportive of the aims of ECO Plus but has three points to make;
- Simplify it – Anyone involved in the proposals for ECO4 will realise that in an attempt to create fairness we are in danger of burying ourselves in baffling calculations and complex policies that, inevitably, will create an unending spiral of inconsistencies and loops holes that will require more rules and regulations to plug. Perhaps now is the time to stop and reflect.
- Focus on the home – PAS 2035, when implemented properly, is a great solution for whole house retrofit. There may be instances where it is not applicable but at the moment the funding model is not supportive of PAS and continues to drive the industry down a measure led approach. Elmhurst propose that the funding should focus on the start of the process (the assessment and plan) and not just the end point.
- Is it fair on suppliers? – It does seem incongruous that utility suppliers, whose reason for being is to sell more energy, are required to lead an initiative that reduces consumption. Perhaps now is the time to think of a different funding model, with a new governance, that ensures all stakeholders have the same motivation.
For the full GEMServ press release click here