The rate at which energy prices have recently risen has been staggering and further price rises are expected. The negative impact of this inflation is being felt by all, with the rising cost of energy fueling inflation and pushing numerous households into financial crisis. The time appears ripe for some form of ‘Green Deal’ from the government to reduce the strain and distress caused: however, with winter around the corner, the responsibility appears to fall upon homeowners and renters to weather the storm alone.
The original ‘Green Deal’ was a government initiative launched in 2013 which encouraged homeowners to insulate their homes using a government-funded loan, including fabric insulation and more energy-efficient doors and windows. Despite the clear benefits of the Deal, as of June 2015, only 10,000 households had installed energy-saving measures as part of the initiative. Whilst those 10,000 households are undoubtedly seeing the benefits on their current energy bill, at the time of the first Green Deal, energy costs were comparatively stable and the scheme offered no initial saving for the consumers until the reduced energy consumption became visible once prices increased.
It is becoming increasingly clear that energy costs will probably never return to their 2013/15 rate and the time has never been better for a second Green Deal: indeed, with energy bills greatly surpassing their 2013 counterparts, the timing is arguably better now than it was for the original Green Deal.
The unfortunate reality of energy-saving home improvements is that the savings will not be immediately noticeable as the investment in the changes can be excessive, particularly without any government aid or financial input. However, with the prices continuing to rise and the increased pressure upon households all over the country, it is very likely that this investment will be seen by many as a worthwhile and cost-effective change. The movement ‘Insulate Britain’ maintains that the government should make updating social housing in-line with ‘low-carbon’ standards a priority in order to bring people out of ‘fuel poverty’. A further advantage of this increased investment is that a correctly insulated building also helps keep out the heat of anticipated future heatwaves in the UK.
Whilst a new Green Deal could be funded by the government and the increasingly profitable energy companies, there is also a noticeable lack of information around how to update existing homes to a ‘low-carbon’ standard. It could be argued that many homes that can afford to update their homes would make that change if they understood how. The Building Regulations around carbon emissions and energy-efficient standards for new buildings are beginning to change, such as the increased push for electricity rather than gas, but it is clear that a detailed plan is needed to update much of our current housing.