The current UK government has declared its ambition to be the greenest UK government ever. However, one of its key campaigns to achieve this could actually be doing more harm than good.
The government’s green scheme was to be a brand-new loan scheme designed to help British households afford proper insulation of their homes. About 25% of UK carbon emissions are produced by the heating of residential buildings—this figure is considerably higher in the UK than other parts of the world because many of the houses are a lot older than the international average, and the age of these homes means that much of the insulation is wearing out and that which remains is not as efficient as you would find in more-modern housing. Reducing the energy wasted by poorly insulated UK homes would have a significant impact on the UKs carbon emissions.
Critics of the potentially ‘greenest ever government’ have cast serious doubt on the figures behind the green scheme. The problem is that the green scheme replaces an older, similar scheme that was instated by the previous government. At the moment, in the UK, energy companies are required to contribute money that subsidizes or sometimes even pays for the costs of insulating a home. This cheap (or sometimes free) insulation is currently finding its way into an average of 500,000 UK cavity walls a year and over a million UK lofts. The new scheme, however, means that the insulation will no longer be subsidized, but, instead, the government will lend the money to households, which they can then pay back with the savings that are made from having a new, more energy-efficient home—hmm, giving money to homeowners versus loaning them money, which is likely to get more people on board?
Opponents to the change in scheme claim that an end to the subsidized and free insulations is more likely to reduce the number of homes that are insulated, not increase it(!), meaning that the reduction in the carbon emissions created by poorly insulated homes is likely to slow down, not speed up.
The government had also hoped that the increase in the number of people looking to improve their home’s insulation would help create a number of new jobs. However, there are fears that many people involved in these installations are not properly prepared, with cases being reported of energy-saving devices being incorrectly fitted and actually leading to higher energy costs and greater carbon emissions.
Members of the home improvement industries are suggesting that consumers still waiting to see if the green scheme is right for them should not rule out cheaper forms of insulation that can still make a huge difference. A house’s windows are still one the areas where heat is most drastically lost. A reasonably inexpensive upgrade you can make to them is installing honeycomb or cellular wooden shutters or blinds that trap air inside, as they act as a great insulator. Even small improvements like this can make a big difference to your homes energy bills.
Any more info on this scheme or commentary you’d like to add?
UK home via shutterstock
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