EAC calls for “war effort” on energy efficiency to reduce household bills

rolls of insulation
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The Environmental Audit Committee has set out how the UK can accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels , calling for a national mobilisation, or “war effort”, on energy efficiency.

The report outlines that the Energy Price Guarantee has saved four million households from spending 10% of their income on energy this January, but the government missed a window of opportunity to accelerate energy-efficiency installations in the warmer months of 2022.

The Chancellor’s recent announcements of an Energy Efficiency Taskforce and further energy-efficiency investment from 2025 is welcomed in the report, but those in fuel poverty cannot afford three winters of delay.

In England alone, over 13 million (or 59%) of homes in England are below EPC rated C. The number of UK energy efficiency installations peaked in 2012 at 2.3 million, yet in 2021, fewer than 100,000 upgrades were installed. The EAC is calling for at least one million energy-efficiency installations a year by 2025, with a target of 2.5 million properties a year by the end of the decade.

Such an effort would require funding, including investment in people to deliver this step change. The new Energy Efficiency Taskforce should be directed to estimate the levels of funding and workforce skills which will be needed. A proportion of the Energy Profits Levy should be allocated immediately to help fund energy efficiency improvements.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

Fossil fuels have helped keep our homes warm, power our cars and generate the majority of our electricity. Britain will continue to need to access fossil fuel supplies during the Net Zero transition. But Government should consult on setting an end date for licencing oil and gas from the North Sea. We can accelerate this transition by fully harnessing our abundant renewable energy resources, including tidal energy that can deliver a reliable year-round source of clean electricity, and by upgrading our energy inefficient buildings.

The Government’s British Energy Security Strategy and its intervention to cap household energy prices should be praised. But there have been significant missed opportunities in recent months: the Government could have gone further and faster.

To reduce the UK’s demand on fossil fuels, we must stop consuming more than we need. We must fix our leaky housing stock, which is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and wastes our constituents’ hard-earned cash: we must make homes warmer and retain heat for longer. The Government’s welcome new Energy Efficiency Taskforce can lead a national mobilisation to install energy efficiency upgrades, which we would like to see achieve an initial target of a million homes a year and more than double this by the end of the decade. To help fund this, the Government should funnel some of the revenue from the new Energy Profits Levy to crack on with the task at the earliest opportunity.

The UK has enormous renewable energy potential and sectors such as offshore wind are booming. But more must be done to harness the opportunities which onshore wind, tidal and solar technologies provide. Developers should be required to fit solar panels on new homes as standard.

Bold action is needed now. The last year, with Russia’s aggression in Europe choking energy supplies, has shown us just how vulnerable our over-reliance on imported fossil fuels can make us. The Committee has today set out a number of clear recommendations to drive real change: I hope the Government will act swiftly to implement them.

The Committee has called for an update of the British Energy Security Strategy to be published in Spring 2023 indicating progress in reducing reliance on Russian imports, securing energy supplies and improving energy efficiency.

Read the full report: publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5803/cmselect/cmenvaud/109/report.html