Blog by Dr Charlie Wilson (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research). UK homes account for just under a quarter of national greenhouse gas emissions. Improving their efficiency not only reduces emissions, but also improves health and wellbeing, and creates jobs. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently retweeted the headline findings of UKERC-CIED research published last year: up to 50% of energy used in homes can be saved through energy efficient renovations and other measures, contingent on supporting policies. Are these supporting policies in place? The Green Deal was introduced with fanfare in 2013, replacing obligations on utilities with a market-based approach for informing homeowners about cost-effective efficiency measures and providing ‘pay-as-you-save’ loan financing. Our research found that although the Green Deal did effectively raise the salience of energy efficient renovations, it failed in other important ways. First, it treated energy efficiency as special rather than as a ‘mundane’ feature of broader home improvements. Second, it emphasised financial aspects of renovation decisions rather than tap into the underlying tensions in domestic life which renovations could help resolve. And it was attractive to homeowners only once they had already decided to renovate, so didn’t help boost renovation rates. Uptake rates of Green Deal finance were extremely low, and confidence in the scheme plummeted. Less than 2 years after its introduction, it was largely shelved. The Clean Growth Strategy published last October includes measures for improving the efficiency of fuel-poor and low-income homes, but offers little to the two thirds of owner-occupied homes in the UK, nor the private rental sector (beyond an aspiration to “develop a long-term trajectory” to improve energy performance). The post-Green Deal policy vacuum persists.
SPRU 2nd Feb 2018 read more »