Working towards an Energy Efficient Society
As a General Election and BREXIT approach, Martyn Reed, Managing Director of Elmhurst Energy, outlines the company’s manifesto for an energy efficient society and the six simple steps we need to take to move nearer to the goal.
Climate change and the need to reduce our carbon footprint are familiar matters to all and it is well recognized that we need to reduce our carbon emissions, of which buildings contribute around 30 per cent. Undertaking energy efficiency measures can provide a great return on investment and save families and business money, whilst also reducing carbon emissions for the country as a whole. At Elmhurst Energy, we have written a manifesto to present to Government, outlining six simple steps to help create an energy efficient society.
- Support the energy efficiency sector by committing to maintain all EU Climate change legislation post BREXIT. Elmhurst was delighted to read the Great Repeal Bill’s with its acknowledgement that “UK’s current legislative framework at national, EU and international level has delivered tangible environmental benefits” and commitment to “ensure that the whole body of existing EU environmental law continues to have effect in UK law.” Which gives us all confidence for the medium term. What is needed from a new Government is explicit support to energy assessments to allow individuals and business to continue investing in the skills and tools required for the job.
- We need to create a clear government strategy that reduces carbon emissions by reducing demand as well as decarbonising energy generation. Yes, the practicalities of doing so can be challenging, but if we have learned anything, it is that short-term response tactics do not work. Instead, the new Government needs a definitive long-term strategy to reduce carbon emissions by reducing demand.
- We need to ensure an appropriate focus on energy efficiency initiatives that benefit the fuel poor, those families on low incomes and live in the least efficient homes. The latest figures from the BEIS show that the number of households in fuel poverty has risen from 2.35 to 2.38 million – a disappointing statistic. While it is true that fuel poverty could be solved by giving more money to the families that need it, we at Elmhurst believe this is a poor investment: the money is literally disappearing through the roof. Instead we believe the only long-term solution is to invest carefully in the least efficient homes and educate families on how they can live affordably.
- The validity period for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) should be reduced to three years so the information is meaningful and up-to-date. Currently there is a ten year validity period for EPCs. But volatile energy prices and rapidly changing technology means that figures fast become out of date and are often viewed with scepticism by homeowners. Elmhurst wants to see the validity period for EPCs reduced to a maximum of three years and would argue that if EPCs contained more up-to-date calculations of energy-savings, people would be more likely to act on the recommendations.
- Have EPCs at the core of all future energy initiatives to allow successes to be measured and compared. If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. EPCs are an established and reliable low cost tool for measuring the efficiency of our homes and buildings. They enable improvements to be identified and the effectiveness of initiatives to be measured.
- Extend the role of Energy Assessors to include best practice advice to families on how to reduce fuel bills and make their homes warmer. At present Energy Assessors complete an EPC report and lodge the results centrally, but giving direct advice to clients is discouraged. It shouldn’t be! We want to see them authorised to give independent advice to homeowners and businesses on how what action they should take to reduce fuel bills and make their homes and buildings warmer.
Supporting these steps will provide a route to achieving change and a more energy efficient society. We must not allow energy issues to be ignored in what is a time of change in the United Kingdom. We will continue to work towards a better future where people are removed from fuel poverty.