As new figures reveal that energy bills have almost doubled in six years, Sutton Council has announced the results of two energy-saving trials to help householders protect themselves from future rises.
From October 2012, people planning major building work will be able to use the Green Deal to fund energy saving improvements up-front, increasing their home’s energy efficiency.
Sutton was one of five pilot areas for the scheme, which will offer grants and low-cost loans to allow householders to cut their bills for good. The council worked with B&Q and green social enterprise BioRegional to help 67 owners retrofit their homes, reducing energy wastage and cutting bills.
Cllr Colin Hall, Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change on Sutton Council, said: “Energy bills make up a significant chunk of most household budgets and as hard-pressed residents continue to feel the pinch, it is more important than ever that we look at what we can do to help people cut energy bills for good. Over the past two years, we’ve run two pilot schemes to help us find out how we, as a local authority, can help residents to make long-term changes.”
Britain’s houses are among the least energy-efficient in Europe and owners of period properties, like many of those found in Sutton, can be particularly hard hit. The UK has committed itself to reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, which will mean that the nation’s homes, which currently contribute over a quarter of the UK’s emissions, will need to drastically reduce the amount of energy that they use.
Participants in the Green Deal ‘Pay As You Save’ pilot received a grant to cover 40% of the work, and chose whether to repay the rest over 10 or 25 years. The guiding principle of the scheme is that savings on energy bills will outweigh repayment costs – and this was the case for three quarters of those who chose the longer repayment term.
Findings from this trial indicate that homeowners are not only motivated by immediate financial savings on their energy bills but also by making their home more comfortable, improving its appearance and taking the hassle out of the improvements by having an expert come in and do the whole installation.
The Council has also run a second energy-cutting project in Hackbridge. The Hackbridge Low Carbon Zone project saw 160 householders opting to make large changes, such as loft and cavity wall insulation, draught proofing and replacing boilers and white goods. Three hundred homeowners, almost half of those eligible for the scheme, received a free energy audit to identify where their home was losing energy before installing money saving gadgets, such as energy monitors.
Despite many residents only making smaller-scale changes, the project is estimated to have cut the area’s carbon emissions by around a fifth and shaved £170 off participating household’s energy bills. This rose to an average saving of £270 for residents who made a larger change.