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How energy efficient is your home?

02:07 UK time, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Plans to encourage householders to make their homes much warmer and cheaper to run have been announced by ministers. Would incentives urge you to be more energy efficient?

Consumers will be offered long-term loans to install insulation, solar panels or other green technology, which they can repay through energy bills.

The government wants to save 29% of carbon emissions from UK homes by 2020.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband said the scheme would enhance the value of a property by making its energy costs "significantly lower".

What do you do to save energy in your home? Is the loan a good idea? How important is energy efficiency to you?


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  • Comment number 1.

    Just what we need, more debt!

  • Comment number 2.

    I can't see what good this is going to do. The only people that are going to use this are people that can afford to pay it back. The people that NEED the loan are the very ones that can't afford to pay their bills in the first place so i fail to see how it's going to help them.

  • Comment number 3.

    From the moment that we switch our radiators on half of the heat given off by them is lost as it goes into the wall behind them. We can, however, get around this problem with an invention from a then schoolboy that got onto the 'Tommorow's World' program decades ago. He had learned from School that heat is given off by way of conduction, convection, and radiation, so when his Grandmother had problems meeting her heating bills the schoolboy reasoned that heat loss due to conduction and convection could be stopped by putting a lining of cardboard covered with silver cooking foil behind his Grandmother's radiators. Heat loss through the wall is now slashed, and rooms heat up faster when the heating comes on. The Fire Brigade said at the time that the cardboard was not a fire hazard as behind the radiator is the least damaged part of a room in the event of a fire. And this saving cuts the CO2 emissions of your house. I have done this, why don't you?

  • Comment number 4.

    Loans are a really stupid idea. What incentive is there? The only way to get rapid large-scale efficiencies in domestic energy use is to make adequate insulation a retrospective element of building regulations, that is, compulsory. Insulation should have a generous subsidy and be free for those with a household income below some threshold. This should apply only to houses with four bedrooms or less, and be for roof space insulation, cavity wall insulation, and possibly double glazing. Other measures, such as solar heating, heat pumps, wind mills, and geothermal heating should not be subsidised until all houses have adequate insulation.

  • Comment number 5.

    I don't know about UK, but in Nepal we're all very energy efficient because we are getting 12 hours of daily load shedding regardless of night and day.

    Here's the schedule if you'd like to see.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] (PDF file, 29.5 kb)

    Load Shedding: Power cuts due to high demand and low supply of electricity.

    Our electricity bills are reduced by more than 80%. We are very happy.

  • Comment number 6.

    We did quite a lot to curb our energy waste in the house already but a loan certainly won't be an incentive to us to do more. We prefer to have no debts. If we want to do more about our house we'll save up the money and only spend it when we have it.
    Sadly for us, the government is clearly appalled by this attitude. They seem to encourage people to spend spend spend more than they actually have, and punish the ones who don't comply.

  • Comment number 7.

    No it is not a good idea. When building new homes it must be done in construction. For older homes there are schemes already in place. This constant reminding to be Energy Efficient is starting to annoy me. To those who complain that we must do something, yes we do, build power stations. Those who oppose them being built should not mind being the last to being reconnected if there is a power shortage or failure. This Country is so taken in by the do gooders that they forget we need electric and gas to function and as the population is growing I'm afraid Wind Power will not do it.

  • Comment number 8.

    So you take out a loan which will save you money in the long term which you pay back through your energy bills - sounds fine but I will wait for the details. Does it stay on the houses energy bill or move when you move? Will the people who want to buy your house want / be able to pay the extra? If you move to another ill-insulated house and the debt goes with you do you have another load of debt to get that house insulated? Is it going to involve only 'approved' suppliers who usually charge twice the going rate? etc.
    For me there are too many unknowns to even consider making a decision at this point but given EVERY Goverments reputation in this area my inking is towards - no way!

  • Comment number 9.

    2 years ago we installed solar panels to heat our water. Cost = £5,000 approx. We save 40% on our energy bill so our investment will take about 5 years to cover itself. The outlay almost prevented us going ahead, but we felt a reduction in our carbon footprint was worth it as well as energy savings.
    We have had no success in persuading our friends and neighbours to do the same as us. They say it is too expensive at the outset. The local government subsidy was only £250.
    If the government is serious about encouraging this kind of technology then subsidies need to be of a much greater magnitude.

  • Comment number 10.

    How will energy efficiency help save the working man money? If you make your house energy efficient you will consume less fuel. That means the profits of the energy generators/suppliers will take a nose dive and they will then increase the base tariff to offset the loss of income, so in effect, we will all be paying more for less.

  • Comment number 11.

    I was entitled to an energy grant with warmfront to make my flat better, but there was nothing they could do as the walls were the wrong type, the windows were too old and the huge things landlord said it would ruin the asthetics.

  • Comment number 12.

    @10 How will energy efficiency help save the working man money? If you make your house energy efficient you will consume less fuel. That means the profits of the energy generators/suppliers will take a nose dive and they will then increase the base tariff to offset the loss of income, so in effect, we will all be paying more for less.

    Or prices are going up anyway, because of the increase in world-wide demand. Therefore using energy more efficiently may keep the demand and therefore the price, down. At the same time you will be using less so paying less.

    Equally plausible.

  • Comment number 13.

    I would require that the ratable value of the house is reduced when energy efficiency is improved. The reason for this initive is that the idiiot Brown has signed a treaty that is imposible to fulfill and will be fined by the Brusseld dictators if he does not produce. Man made Global Warming is a myth and is being used as a taxatiion tool be Brown and his ilk.

  • Comment number 14.

    To become more energy efficient: turn down the thermostat or use candles.Whatisthe point? If we become energy efficient we use less power which meansless VAT to the government so they will tax usinother directions to make up for the shortfall. all this waffle about global warming and being greener is more hot air- perhapswe could use that.we could also organise collectionsof the methane produced by live stock and use that to provide energy............

  • Comment number 15.

    Brilliant! Not content with doing nothing about the exorbitant energy bills we've been getting since Thatcher flogged off our prize assets to foreigners, our Labour!!! government now proposes adding to those bills to cover the costs of insulation!!! Just to save a couple of quid on grants. How do they think people struggling to pay the bills as they are can cope with that? The stunningly obvious consequence of this asinine proposal will be that those who need the insulation most, to reduce their bills, will be the ones most unable to afford it. And, don't suggest that bills will be less if we use less energy. I remember when water meters were introduced. We cut down on water use, and our water bills went up - I have the evidence to prove it. Why was this? The bloody French water company put metered water on a higher tariff! The response of OffWat - can't do anything about it. Well, I've got news for them. I'll be voting for the Party that says it will renationalise energy and water. If nobody has the guts to promise that, I won't be voting again - ever!

  • Comment number 16.

    Government funding needs to be in the form of grants payable only to licensed merchants of renewable microgenerators and efficiency upgrades. Loans are a terrible idea - as someone else said before me, only those who are well off enough to pay back the loan will really consider taking one out, which defeats the point since they can probably afford to buy one anyway.

    Also, building regulations need to be changed to make inclusion of solar panels, communal methane generators (takes effluent and waste and allows it to produce methane for gas-burning in a safe environment by decomposing), wind turbines and high-grade insulation mandatory, amongst other energy saving features like geothermal water pumps, from the outset in all new commercial housing developments, and all renovation programs. Heavy subsidies should be available to enable companies to cover most of the cost without sufficient rises in house prices.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm doing absolutely nothing about energy efficiency in my home except replace the old style light bulbs as they expire and the benefit of that is questionable. I haven't got the cash and I don't want unnecessary additional debt. Whoever thought this one up is not in touch with reality.

  • Comment number 18.

    Yesterday the BBC carried a defence of the actions of the UEA and incontrovertible proof of climate change as a news item. No one disagrees with climate change, it does so constantly, only the scientific claims of man-made input, and the control thereof.

    By all means let us clean up our dirt by finding better ways but please do not continue this charade about "saving x of emissions by x date". We have no idea what our input to climate change is, but we would all like cheaper energy bills. Governments should force banks to invest money in electricity storage research and development, and natural energy sources. That way prices would come down and we may get cleaner for no other reason than there are alternatives to existing electricity providers.

    Stop this farce about carbon footprints.

  • Comment number 19.

    It is another idiotic idea, no one has thought to ask how long these solar panels are going to work they might be no use in 10 years time, either through breakdown or by being obsolete and not working with other improvements that might come along. Who would want to pay for that for another 15 years or more.

    Also climate change is a myth it is obvious to anyone with any common sense that the earth is in a different orbit at the mooment, we are nearer the sun. In the 60`s in mid summer the sun was at 12 o`clock it is now only at about 10 o`clock. In 1987 when I picked my son up from school it was dark at 3.30pm as we broke up for Christmas hols, now it is still daylight.

  • Comment number 20.

    As with every other Government scheme this one involves the use of 'Professional' installers, with the resultant doubling of the price involved.
    I am investigating the prices of Solar PV generation. I can install a complete system for around £12000, but to obtain a feed in Tariff I must have the installation carried out by a Registered firm. The lowest quote I have obtained for the same size system is £22000.
    As ever the Government has neglected the DIY area, and fallen for the pressure from the Generating Companies. Solar Generation is not wizardry or even High Tech, and apart from the final connection to the mains grid is well within the capabilities of most.
    My mother in law recently had her loft insulated under a Government scheme, the cost to the Government included a £200 labour charge for the 'professionals' who rolled out the Rockwall, yet another example of necessary costs.
    I will be installing PV generation, but the idea of a loan on the house I do not like, My finance will probably come from another route.

  • Comment number 21.


    They've had 13 years to legislate to make building ECO friendly houses compulsory but nothing, and now, just weeks before the Election we get this stunt.


  • Comment number 22.

    So far tis year I have been told by a salesman that the Govnmt will give me a £1000 cash back if I switch to his form of heating + an annual low carbon payback of another £1000.
    My local green group tell me I can get a free energy survey & insulation top-up from my Council and now you say i can get a loan.
    What we need is one clear authoritive statement of what is availavble and how not a trickle of contradictory bits.
    Incidenally why do new homes not have to be carbon neutral?

  • Comment number 23.

    Typical of this government, they can not borrow any more money so they are encouaging the people to borrow money.

    Loans cost extra money in interest so you pay though the nose. I prefer interest being paid into my account.

    As for energy saving, Do it bit by bit or dont go on holiday for a year and do it with the money you save, that is if you dont use credit cards, they are a waste of money. Tear up you credit card and use that old fashion stuff called CASH.

  • Comment number 24.

    If the government is really serious about solar and wind power why don't they legislate so that every new house built in the UK comes with solar panels and a wind turbine?
    Dave Smith Reading

  • Comment number 25.

    The country is bankrupt, so how exactly does Gordon intend to pay for this?

    Oh yes, I know, let's borrow some more money!! Just what we need....

  • Comment number 26.

    " 4. At 05:01am on 02 Mar 2010, TominExeter wrote:

    Loans are a really stupid idea. What incentive is there? The only way to get rapid large-scale efficiencies in domestic energy use is to make adequate insulation a retrospective element of building regulations, that is, compulsory. Insulation should have a generous subsidy and be free for those with a household income below some threshold."

    The incentive is that you pay ~£100 a year to pay the loan back but knock ~£200 off your bill. The incentive is you save money and the country doesn't get saddled with even more public spending which will have to be sorted out sooner rather than later.

    With your scheme it means people like me (who only earn £29,000.... hardly mega-money when you have a mortgage to pay) but have already paid themselves to properly insulate their homes (and the loft insulation I did myself to twice the recommended depth) then get taxed to pay for people who can't be bothered to do it themselves. How is that fair?

    Incidentally if people on lower incomes get free insulation why not charge people on higher incomes double for their gas and electric? There's no difference in principle.

  • Comment number 27.

    Although I applaud the principle it will do nothing to help those who really need cheap energy such as pensioners and low income families and of course the energy companies who will jump on the band wagon.

    It also seems somewhat hypocritical when the government did nothing to stop the closure of the Wind Turbine plant on the Isle of Wight. Germany has something like 35,000 people employed in the green energy industry, we only have a fraction of that.

    We have over 2 million people unemployed, give them jobs making low cost green energy solutions for installing into the low income homes of this country. Anything that reduces our dependency on imported oil and gas must be a positive step to reducing the countries debt.

  • Comment number 28.

    I thought this climate change scam was dead in the water. Next will be tax tax tax to save the planet. Wake up sheeple.

  • Comment number 29.

    #22 " Incidenally why do new homes not have to be carbon neutral? "

    Because its impossible. Its like Arnie's 'ZEEERO EEEEMEEESION HUMMM-VEEE' that runs on electricity. California imports much of its power from coal fired stations in Nevada. It might be zero-emmision in California but the CO2 doesn't respect state lines.

    The only way a new build house in Britain will be 'carbon neutral' is by planting trees and frankly this offsetting thing is utter nonsense that is very profitable for some people but is tokenism. For instance it is not 'carbon neutral' for Al Gore to fly 1st class to pick up his nobel price in Stockholm for 'an inconvenient truth' because one of his companies has sold carbon credits to another of his companies which then plants a tree.

  • Comment number 30.

    "24. At 08:02am on 02 Mar 2010, David Smith wrote:

    If the government is really serious about solar and wind power why don't they legislate so that every new house built in the UK comes with solar panels and a wind turbine?"

    My one & a half bed house has the roof facing east. A solar panel wouldn't be worth the effort of fitting it. The little solar lights in the garden barely run for an hour on a days charge. Likewise a turbine... it would be clashing blades with the neighbours turbines. My house is only as wide as two cars. The manufacturing cost of all these inefficient little toys would more than offset any benefit. Do you know where all the rare metals in solar panels come from or how much copper mined in chile is needed for each turbine?. If you want PROPER green electricity generation you do it on a big scale... turn the English channel into one big tidal power station and generate ten percent of the UK's power from one big easily maintained, predictable source.

  • Comment number 31.

    As I live in a very old, stone house (which I have rented for many years) in a conservation area, it is very unlikely that any "green" measures would be allowed. Old and cold! Still, when I first moved here there was no central heating, so..................... Perhaps they should introduce measures that apply to all.

  • Comment number 32.

    Energy efficiency - except in where it saves me money - is pretty low on my agenda.

    I have enough other things to worry about - like a serious lack of work (I'm self-employed & presumably not eligible for benefits).

    If there are any cheap and easy solutions then I have no objections to doing my bit.

    But the UK can make such a small difference to world energy use that it just isn't worth us making great sacrifices for it.

    If you want to be serious about this, the greatest contribution we can make to saving energy is to stop buying anything from China and force them back to an agricultural economy.

    Anyone interested? Thought not.

  • Comment number 33.

    What is it with this government - with the country drowning in debt, they want everyone to take on MORE debt..?
    The fact of the matter is that the payback time on installations such as solar panels is SOOOOO long as to be completely cost-ineffective.

  • Comment number 34.

    At some point in the next few years when I can afford it (i.e. when I've paid off my mortgage) I will invest in solar water heating and possibly home electricity generation via solar panels. I'm lucky in that I have a south facing roof and it all gets extremely hot in summer. I'll do it without a loan as I hope I'll be able to afford to. I'm determined not to go into debt for anything except the mortgage.

  • Comment number 35.

    I have full insulation in my house, good double glazing (wood not plastic) and reflective panels behind radiators with thermal valves.

    I also reduce the temperature in the house and wear extra clothing in winter. This is the biggest cost reduction, energy saving element. I know of people who have their houses heated quite high so they can walk around in nightwear, they then complain about energy bills.

  • Comment number 36.

    We are replacing known-brand low energy bulbs with proper traditional ones. We just couldn't live in the gloom any longer.

  • Comment number 37.

    Before I would take on any debt to cover energy-saving devices I would need to be assured that the saving would not be wiped out by the energy used to manufacture the device. Have the calculations been done, including the energy used for future repairs and that used by the workers who manufactured them and the distribution network?

  • Comment number 38.

    In my experince the problem is one of poor education , always women who demand to be over warm. They simply refuse any advice to move about / more clothes etc.
    Also , if the radiators are not hot the put the thermostat setting up to 22.

  • Comment number 39.

    These are simply new and convoluted ways of screwing the British people out of more money.
    If the UK establishment really meant to impact on the environment in a positive way, they would spend money where it is needed, and not on clever-clever advertising campaigns which achieve nothing except more wealth for vested interests.

  • Comment number 40.

    Here's a few words when considering a response:

    Finite resource
    Californian blackouts

    The UK energy supply is in danger of being over-stretched and our reliance on fossil fuels cannot be sustained indefinitely. A reduction in demand will make renewables a more realistic option for many. They aren't the only solution, but they are important.

  • Comment number 41.

    I recently reluctantly replaced my trusty 10 year old TV, 15 year old washing machine, 10 year old fridge and 8 year old computer monitor. Much to my surprise my last electricity bill was less than a third of what I normally get !

  • Comment number 42.

    " 33. At 09:04am on 02 Mar 2010, david wrote:

    What is it with this government - with the country drowning in debt, they want everyone to take on MORE debt..?
    The fact of the matter is that the payback time on installations such as solar panels is SOOOOO long as to be completely cost-ineffective."

    Yup... in fact for a lot of people you'll never recoup the cost. My in-laws live in a large south facing house in Kent. They do get the benefit from it, but if you live in a small terrace house in a midlands industrial city that doesn't face what little sun creeps over the next street the panel will rust to bits before its paid its cost.... or you move house.

    Loft insulation on the other hand is highly effective but also so cheap that taking out a loan to pay for it is madness. Nice job creation scheme for odd-job men though. I might consider a career move!

  • Comment number 43.

    You've got to love this barmy government. On the one hand they're preaching to us about insulating our homes and cutting down energy use, on the other they're offering loans so we can use more! Stupid idea.
    Secondly, I don't mind being given the facts about power use & wastage, but sadly this government tends to prefer spying and fining, sending yellow-jackets round to issue on-the-spot fines and setting targets. No.

  • Comment number 44.

    I already have sufficient incentives to become energy efficient: They're called my gas and electricity bills.

  • Comment number 45.

    More debt? Haven't they realised yet? You couldn't make this up.

  • Comment number 46.

    #15 "I'll be voting for the Party that says it will renationalise energy and water. If nobody has the guts to promise that, I won't be voting again - ever!"

    WITH WHAT? The owners of the shares in our energy companies are pension pots and people like my parents who bought £10K of Scottish power shares. To renationalise the companies means paying the market rate for those shares and we don't have the cash to do that. Simply taking them, Hugo Chavez or Robert Mugabe style means that every foreign investor in the UK ups and leaves and we rob the british people who have prepared for their retirement to benefit those who have not. This was the policy of the Perons in Argentina and it turned Argentina from one of the richest countries in the world in 1938 to a third world military dictatorship in 15 years. No one will invest a penny in a country that steals anything you build.

    Incidentally our energy bills are not 'exorbitant' British gas made about £3 per house per month profit last year. The problem is that most of our energy comes from abroad (mostly Norway and Quatar now...fortunately not Russia yet but thats inevitable unless we pull our finger out and develop new power sources) and the foreigners you so object to can charge us what they like for their gas.

  • Comment number 47.

    I agree with comment no.2. My home is insulated throughout. Low energy bulbs in every light fitting.Central heating off most of the time or turned down low.Lights off when rooms not in use.Fridge turned down as low as feasible but the energy bills keep going up and up although I am using less utility power. I behave like Ebonezer Scrooge but it makes no difference. Same with my metered water supply and TV licence. It is a great worry to me and to most people. When are the utility companies going to call a halt on their scandalous charges?

  • Comment number 48.

    My house is very, very energy inefficient. But the landlord doesn't care, of course. He doesn't have to pay the bills. I'd love it if there was a way to force landlords to insulate their properties properly, install decent (not bodged) central heating, etc.

  • Comment number 49.

    I fully insulated my house: roof, walls, glazing; but I did not upgrade my boiler. However, I saved loads of money by not turning on the central heating, so eventhough I'm always in my 3 bed house, my gas+electricity came to under £90 for the whole of 2009.
    This is good for our trade balance, & the treasury gains too because they only get 5% energy tax, so the saved money was spent on VAT rated goods & services of 17.5% on DVDs, mobile broadband, TV media & education which are a lot more beneficial to society & the planet.

  • Comment number 50.

    Much as I would like to reduce my energy consumption I live within Snowdonia National park. This means that I am prevented from even double glazing the property let alone using solar panels etc.
    If the government is really serious about solar and wind power why don't they legislate so that every building owner has the right to reduce carbon emissions without the interference of the “Lets return Wales back to the dark ages brigade” Remove planning decisions from park authorities and let us reduce our carbon footprint

  • Comment number 51.

    Well said TomExeter at No.15

  • Comment number 52.

    After over a decade of pontificating this scheme is not good enough to have any major effect. Each property has differing requirements due to it's build materials, latitude, surroundings, aspect, geology etc.
    There are a minefield of problems to be considered that most people don't know where to begin. It is unfair to leave them in the hands of green energy salesmen. What is needed is Government employed engineering advisors that can give independant advice. Insulation of homes needs to be retrospective and compulsory but allow people to fit their own where capable. A local planner inspector sign off to keep standards maintained. Set up a National Renewable Engineering Laboratory (NREL), to oversee large scale renewable developments, setting industry standards, coordinating research, a shared knowledge database.
    As a mature student who will be graduating in a few months with a degree in energy engineering I would like to get to work. Instead the Government want to leave everything to market forces which will mean the dole.

  • Comment number 53.

    I live in a privately rented ground-floor flat, which is terribly "energy inefficient".

    My landlord refuses to spend money doing it up (why should he? he stands nothing to gain), and it's not worth me spending money on it, as it's not my property.

    Soon I plan to get my energy from AtCostEnergy, so my bills will reduce drastically, and I won't be stung too much.

  • Comment number 54.

    Perhaps government should concentrate more on forcing the big companies to cut down on on consumption. One only has to look at London's skyline to see all the huge office blocks alight at night with no-one in them.

    Whatever happens, it will cost the taxpayer even more money!

  • Comment number 55.

    Will they take the lead and switch off all heating and lighting in the house of commons and also request ALL councils do the same? NOT ONE of these buildings are manned 24/7 so why do they insist on keeping lights on??

    NOW that would be a useful exercise

  • Comment number 56.

    Our home (rented) is a Victorian mid terrace. It probably needs insulation and other improvements to reduce energy use/loss. We are a low single income household (£20k), and we receive no benefits (we have tried). As we don't receive benefits we therefore don't qualify for any grants towards the costs of any improvements (have researched). We have already stopped using tumble dryer, turn off unnecessary lights, recycle, re-use, etc. It is unfair that as a taxpaying family, we have to pay for everything whilst other non-taxpayers get everything given to them free of charge or significantly reduced charge. We live within our means and we certainly don't take out unnecessary loans. At the end of the day we wouldn't benefit, but our landlord would. Legislation should be passed requiring all landlords to upgrade properties to a required energy saving level, but I very much doubt that would happen and if it did they would just pass on the cost by increasing rents (already 50% of take home salary). The government has to get on with building nuclear power stations, whilst improvements are made to alternative power and more research into nuclear fusion. Production of cheap affordable energy will have to take priority over long term home improvements plans and other environmental issues, for the short term.

  • Comment number 57.

    I'd love to install solar panels and a wind turbine on my house, but there is no way that I can justify the expense as I wouldn't save anything like enough money on my energy bills.

    Solar panels and wind turbines could be a lot cheaper if they were mass market items. What the government needs to do is to give subsidies to the manufacturers so that the price comes down, then the system would be self-sustaining.

    Oh, and please make them VAT exempt.

  • Comment number 58.

    From 2016, all newbuild homes will legally have to be built to a zero carbon standard. This means they'll be highly energy efficient and use technologies like solar PV, wind turbines, ground source heat pumps etc.

    This policy (unfortunately) hasn't been that well communicated by Government, but I think that in the next ten years it will tranform what people will / won't accept in terms of the energy performance of their home.

    Once people have seen / experienced what these newbuild zero carbon homes are like - perhaps by visiting a friend who has one - then I think there'll be a huge increase in interest in improving the energy efficiency of existing homes. After all - forgetting about the climate change issue - why wouldn't anyone want a home that is warmer and cheaper to run?

  • Comment number 59.

    This seems a rather timid scheme. Why loans rather than grants?

    Now is the time that the government should really be investing heavily in energy efficiency. It would create thousands of badly needed jobs and give the economy the stimulus it needs.

    The government would need to borrow the money anyway. To reassure the markets and put pressure on companies to switch from using oil, gas and coal, the government should announce that it will pay the loans off by raising a fossil fuel tax as soon as the economy has recovered.

  • Comment number 60.

    Not as energy efficient as it could be if I was on benefits! If the government was serious it would roll out discounts to all.

  • Comment number 61.

    It's doubtful in the present climate if many people will take up this option as it is too expensive.

    We do need to have homes that produce their own power to relieve the load on the National Grid but we also need a policy that facilitates this.

    We need to massively reduce the cost of solar panel units and we need reliable installers.Solar panel manufacturers also need to find ways to extend the lives of solar panels so that they are still functioning well 30 years down the line as people do not want to repeatedly pay out for units that do not last.In this way, by making units more affordable there is likely to be a greater take-up by consumers.

    Several contributors have pointed to the need to have energy saving devices built into properties right from the moment they are built and the government needs to be rushing through legislation to get that in place making such devices compulsory.It also needs to have facilities in place to recycle used units when they reach the end of their working lives.

    We could also do with some device that extracts excess methane from the atmosphere and allows us to use it as a safe alternative fuel to power central heating systems when natural gas supplies run out.In that way we can heat our homes and address climate change issues at the same time.

    Another possibility would be to set up several small, environment-friedndly, flood-protected, hydro-electricity plants close to our major rivers and generate electricity in that way.

    As usual, the main issue is how is it to be funded because at present most people are conserving their money until the recession levels out and they know where they stand.

  • Comment number 62.

    As others have stated "more loans = more debt".

    I do not have a gas supply where i live, thank god, but everything is electric (I removed the condemned oil heating boiler and tank last year without replacement). I have a wood burning stove for heat and am at some point, when I can afford it, getting a wood burning system for my central heating in winter (also to cook on). My average fuel bills per month are currently less than £50 so I cannot cut back much more.

    My attic has been insulated to greater than the building regulations but with solid walls then I cannot have cavity wall insulation. This year I will insualte under my ground floor (at my own expense and to greater than the building regulations require).

    Within three years all my 20th century double glazing will be replaced with the most energy efficient items without any loans/debt.

    These loans, if they become available, for the latest energy efficient things (including car/boiler scrappage schemes) have no impact on me because they deem I earn more than minimum wage and can afford to pay for it myself.

    This ill conceived (soundbite) idea, along with the free home energy saving upgrades does nothing to improve the plight of the poor who are usually in council/landlorded properties and are not allowed to change their accommodation.

    The Carbon footprint/climate change/green agenda lies/spin annoy me as it is not necessarily greener as new items are not necessarily best for a long period of time as the cost of new takes a long time to equate to the cost of a 15 year old regularly serviced boiler.


  • Comment number 63.

    Re: :The comment posted by Andy Kadir-Buxton earlier in this blog.
    The idea of insulating behind radiators is pretty good and very simple. I just wanted to suggest that lining cardboard or hardboard with the modern multi-layer reflective insulator is likely to be much more effective. This is so simple that I guess I agree with Andy, it should be standard practice. I am certainly going to try it in a few key "cold spots".

  • Comment number 64.

    I live in an old house. It has almost no scope for insulation and would not suit double glazing (100 yr old windows still look great). So, I end up with large bills. To make matters worse, my taxes, on top of my bills, go to subsidise other peoples insulation. Their bills will go down, mine will go up. It doesn't seem fair, particularly as I've just helped them buy a new car and boiler. When will we see subsidised bills for those who cherish and preserve Britains historic homes, or are we all doomed to live in the governments new Eco homes of no character or space?

  • Comment number 65.

    Rather than offering long-term loans as an incentive to reduce energy consumption, the government should offer realistic grants, as opposed to the paltry handouts they offered for upgrading old boilers.

    I had solar panels installed at my last two homes and, over a 14-year period, the savings more than paid for the original outlay. I am thinking of having panels installed in my present home, but not until a decent grant is available and there is evidence that this government and local authorities are themselves taking the matter seriously.

    When I see every other street-lamp switched off, and the Houses of Parliament not lit like a Christmas tree every night, I'll know they are not speaking with forked tongues.

  • Comment number 66.

    What incentive would encourage me to become more energy efficient? A salary that rose in sync with the cost of barely surviving.

  • Comment number 67.

    In theory, a great idea. Let's see the numbers in order to make a valued decision.
    If the monthly savings in energy bills exceeds the monthly cost of the loan, and the loan is transferrable with the property, why wouldn't you?

  • Comment number 68.

    My husband and I sit around our house in fleeces when it's cold - but the kids refuse to cover up and perch right in front of the fire (they're teenagers, can't tell them anything!).
    We've bought a couple of these canister gas heaters to use as backing heat and they're very effective. It means we can keep our fire down lower (we don't have central heating) and still have a warm room.

  • Comment number 69.

    This gives scant assistance to those of us with older homes without wall cavities and with combed ceilings.

    Oh and loans - thanks a bundle when the workshy professional benefits claimants get it all for free!

    Another incentive for them not to work.

  • Comment number 70.

    Not having a stable income, I am already careful with the use of energy.

    It would be a criminal offence for me to take out a loan that I knew I would be unlikely to be able to repay.

    Constant reminders from this government to be more energy efficient are insulting.

  • Comment number 71.

    Unlike the majority of commentators on here I have found that my energy bills have decreased significantly since implementing energy saving solutions throughout my house.

    I haven't done it to save the planet or because I have been told to by the Government; I've simply done it to save my hard earned cash.

    Stop moaning people!

  • Comment number 72.

    Making the whole thing loans-based is just typical of this government.

    It will only be of value to those who can afford to repay, and it will, of course, require the creation or expansion of yet more quangos to administer the whole thing.

    More to the point, it will take a long time to be implemented, and have any effect.

    Better ways to tackle this would be

    - make Scandinavian standards of home insulation obligatory on new housing, immediately (won't please the housebuilders - so that's an added bonus!)
    - ensure any new housing is built with large, south facing windows and rooves for solar panels etc - instead of the current system, where houses are just built on some monkey-puzzle street layout decided on by the developers
    - encourage the demolition and replacement of old housing with new, highly energy efficient stock (rather than paving over greenfield sites)
    - make insulation upgrades obligatory prior to housing being sold
    - subsidise insulation materials and installation.

    Much of this would be low-cost (just involving re-orientating and slightly re-designing houses). But even where there are costs involved, they would virtually certainly be less, and a better investment, than the government's solutions, which will involve masses of bureaucracy and minimal results.

  • Comment number 73.

    In many ways my home is very energy-inefficient. I have single-glazed windows in wooden frames, a extremely old boiler, old shower. I probably don't have insulation.

    I'd love to improve all of these things but I'm a single childless man earning just enough money to pay my bills and I am never ever eligable for any of these schemes (I know, I've checked).

    If the government wants me to become energy-efficient they're going to have to come up with something that doesn't mean I have to pauper myself and lose my home in the process.

  • Comment number 74.

    I built my own timber frame house which is over insulated to try and keep costs down, but why?? energy bills just keep going through the roof. If everyone had an energy efficient house the energy companies are going to have to put their prices up to make a profit so it is a waste of time and more importantly money.

  • Comment number 75.

    More loans after which you can bet the government will have atax to hit those of use who don't, can't or wont take one out.

    I am in the can't camp. I can't afford to do up my old house to modern standards and I am sure we are going to get hit by an "environmental" tax added to iut council tax.

    Labour's National debt demands it.

  • Comment number 76.

    I live in what s known as a Caspon house, a quick fix housing solution back in the mid 1960's, meant to have a life span of around twenty years. They are single skin brickwork at ground floor level, crudely lined with roofing felt, then the plaster board. The first floor has even less in the form of insulation. It is constructed of ply wood faced with pan-tiles on the external of the house, just plaster board on the inside, the original plaster board from the sixties, very thin. People who live in these houses pay the same rents as those who have the luxury of double skin, cavity wall brickwork, both ground and first floor.
    I have questioned Hull City Council on the issue, they have no interest nor inclination to insulate these homes. I have written to Margaret Beckett MP, she too has told me it is not a problem of the government.
    These houses have been earmarked to be demolished, some have already been demolished. The house I live in was meant to be demolished around 2012, this has now been put back further, with no date determined as yet. Despite this set back, the council have no plans to insulate these homes, nor to compensate people who live in them. We are wasting so much energy from these homes, it is ridiculous. Also, many of the people who do reside in these Caspon houses are in receipt of welfare benefits of some description, therefore spending much of their benefits on wasted energy. For the rest of us, well we can ill afford the loss of monies too.
    Somebody ought to look into this issue, as here are many Caspon style houses in the UK. Yet as per usual, no-one responsible wants to be responsible.

  • Comment number 77.

    Sadly, although this is in principle a good idea, I suspect that any loans available will just push up energy efficiency consultants' and installers' prices by an equivalent amount, with no net benefit to householders.

    For example, MIRAS relief (remember that?) and cheap mortgages simply pushed up house prices, and student maintenance loans pushed up the cost of rented accomodation. End result: no net benefit.

    This will only work if the contractors are paid directly, and closely regulated, by a Government agency. Or is that Socialism?

  • Comment number 78.

    A quick look tells me solar panels would cost £8-14,000 and save me £200 a year taking 40-70 years at present rates to recoup my loss - I don't think either me or my house will be around that long and that assumes no breakages or breakdowns.
    I live in a 1960s dorma-bungalow which means there is no room for insulation between the roof tiles and the ceiling over much of the roof and the so-called cavity wall insulation put in place when the place was build prevents more efficient material being put in place. I have double glazing and as much insulation as I can get without stopping the ventilation in the roof required to prevent rot so I don't see any loan being of much use to me. Therefore as I can see no way to insulate my house more I can only assume I can look forward to becoming energy poor in my retirement especially with increasing energy prices. I also doubt I will be the only one.

  • Comment number 79.

    Whilst many countries have spent money on building to ensure heat is retained within the building, we of course have built to cost and until fairly recently and ignored heat retention.I have had my property insulated to the current standards and hope that this will allow me to live in some comfort and not pay to heat the exterior of my property.
    Of course the insulation companies and their worker are earning a living because our previous lack of understanding about heat lose.

  • Comment number 80.

    "20. At 07:41am on 02 Mar 2010, barryp wrote:
    As with every other Government scheme this one involves the use of 'Professional' installers, with the resultant doubling of the price involved.
    I am investigating the prices of Solar PV generation. I can install a complete system for around £12000, but to obtain a feed in Tariff I must have the installation carried out by a Registered firm. The lowest quote I have obtained for the same size system is £22000."

    I found the same, and its not just Solar where having goverment grants is a ripe off.

    Insulating my parents house, paying a local firm 350+vat, lowest quote from "warm front" approved suppliers WITH grant was 700+vat!

    Parents replacement gas boiler, local plumber installed for £1200 + vat, cheapest warm front scrapage plumber £1800 for the same boiler!

    I looked into solar panels, total cost to install around 10k including inverter and paying a roofer 2 days to install them. Same system if with goverment grant and being able to claim the power generated back was 23k BUT if i signed up that day as a "show home" they would do it for 18k and could do the installation the next week!

  • Comment number 81.

    "MY Bills are not green they are red, the profits of all the companys are bigger every year .Can any one tell me WHY?

  • Comment number 82.

    An way way to improve home energy efficiency is to improve housebuilding regulations.

    Too many homes are built with poor fitting doors and windows, no insulation etc. Also, anyone landlord should have to improve insulation, I have stayed in too many flats and houses that have not been adequately insulated.

    Stop building out of town shopping and leisure facilities, we have a nation built for the convenience of corporations, not the people who live in it.

  • Comment number 83.

    Having just had a Home Report for my house (which I'm trying to sell), There is a section which states that if I install solar panels I will save - wait for it - £31 per year!!!!!! Maybe it's me, but I just happen to think that this is all a BIG con

  • Comment number 84.

    It makes me laugh, it'll cost me about £800 to insulate my loft to current standard (add an extra 25mm thickness)if I do it myself, twice that to have it done by an approved comopany and qualify for the loan. This will save me £7 per year off my heating bills (114 years payback period). Meanwhile, my house which is well oriented for Solar PV, doesn't qualify for the £3k loan. (not that it matters because that goes straight in the pocket of "approved" installer while you pay £6k for a £3k system).
    Meanwhile, if I drive around at night, I see countless business premises using more energy in 1 night than I use in a week through Neon advertised, fully lit, climate controlled EMPTY buildings etc. Households are responsible for only 29% of final energy use, what about the other 71%?
    Current building regs still do not go far enough (and these energy efficiency requirements should be applied to commercial buildings as well) . You need about 300mm of standard insulation to notice real gains in efficiency and current legislation also does not recognise the use of modern higher efficiency insulation materials. The logic/strategy behind this is unworkable unwieldy and underfunded. I suspect that the govt. is intentionally "mucking up" the green technology market so that they can announce "we've tried green and it don't work, so now we have to go nuclear"

  • Comment number 85.

    New policies like just before an election ... why have we not had such policies before ? Perhaps if they can tell me when the election will be I can arrange my holidays in a more energy efficient manner ..

  • Comment number 86.

    Home insulation is without doubt the most cost effective way of reducing energy use and cutting CO2 output. Adding cavity wall insulation and extra loft insulation to my house cut my heating bill so much that it had paid for itself in 18 months and I have been in profit ever since.
    Every house should be as thoroughly insulated as possible.

  • Comment number 87.

    Hmmmmm, the housing association we rent from had cavity-wall insulation put in as part of some govt. scheme. It was done by cowboys, as ever, and is now being removed having caused damp to track through. Britain needs to move away from wattle and daub to SERIOUS intent, not just more desperate profiteering.

  • Comment number 88.

    In the current fiscal environment taking out loans for a product that a) takes a long time to return the investment and b) the carbon footprint of their manufacture (ie solar panels) is larger than its savings, is not a clever idea. But neither are most of la la Labours policies, so nothing new (except more hot air)

  • Comment number 89.

    I agree with posts 8,9,40,48 and 50. I disagree with post 7, there is no point building more power stations when the supply of fuel is finite.

  • Comment number 90.

    81. At 12:12pm on 02 Mar 2010, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:

    "MY Bills are not green they are red, the profits of all the companys are bigger every year .Can any one tell me WHY?

    British gas actually made a loss two years ago and profits at Centrica are down again. Most people on this board can't tell the difference between 'a 58% increase in profit' and '58% profit'. if your profits rise from 1% to 2% you have a 100% rise in profit.

    The reason your energy bill is going up is because we've burnt our own gas and have to buy it from abroad and the weak pound means we pay more relatively for the gas. There is more competition for the gas (mainly from China) so the Arabs, Norwegians and Russians can charge what they like. As we expect the energy companies to provide the stuff for free there is zero chance of anyone actually investing the billions we need to ensure energy security.

    Mind you when did logic or economics come into a HYS debate?
    -If a company loses billions (like the bank) they're all incompetent clowns who should be stripped of their pensions and sacked.
    -If a company make decent profits they should be hit with a 100% windfall tax as exploiters of the people.
    -We're in the worst recession ever but complain when companies turn a profit.... clearly we wish to stay in recession forever.
    -We want to cut taxes and our enormous national debt yet someone think we can renationalise all our industries, buy back all the shares, turn the British gas staff into civil servants with final salary pensions & mega sick pay (because thats what state employees all get) yet get cheaper gas bills.

    God help us at the election.........

  • Comment number 91.

    "Alex Jones fall of the republic wrote:
    I thought this climate change scam was dead in the water. Next will be tax tax tax to save the planet. Wake up sheeple."

    Err, out of climategate, himalayagate etc, there has been absolutely no evidence that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas, that it is not accumulating in the atmosphere because of mankind burning fossil fuels and deforestation, nor that the trend in global temperatures is not upwards. There is no evidence that the known laws of physics are wrong or that there is not a causal relationship between the increasing atmospheric CO2 and the trend in rising global temperatures (modulated by natural factors such as the sunspot cycle and El Nino/La Nina). If you know differently, please point to peer reviewed evidence that supports it.

    The evidence for MMCC is extremely robust (and the CRU data is independently verified by other climate centres such as NASA GISS and NOAA). However, when it comes to predictions of how fast and how severe future change is likely to happen, then we start to get uncertainties and, perhaps, a degree of exaggeration from some quarters ( as Himalayagate showed). These examples do not undermine the basic science and to think they do suggests you do not undersatnd that science.

    Furthermore, the policies to address climate change, such as this to improve energy efficiency, can be debated for their cost effectiveness, impact on the economy and unintended consequences. However, to argue that you don't agree with the policy, therefore MMCC must be wrong or that you don't agree with the future predictions, so MMCC must be wrong are fundamentally flawed, illogical arguments.

    Let's agree that the climate is changing, that mankind has a large (but not exclusive) part in driving it right now, that the future impacts have huge uncertainties in the predictions but that it it prudent to reduce likely impacts by acting now.

    I would far rather be taken as a fool by future generations for taking action when it was not absolutely necessary than be taken as reckless and irresponsible for not taking action when the best science avaialble to us said we should.

  • Comment number 92.

    I agree with the idea to help people make their homes more energy efficient, but I think we could do more to make sure they actually do. For example, make green technology mandatory for new buildings. And make it mandatory for any building by 2020 or so. Also ban the sales of non-energy efficient light bulbs.

  • Comment number 93.

    Over the past few years I have done just about all that is possible to insulate my house. Wall insulation, 12" of fibreglass in the roof, double glazing and a condensing boiler. All at considerable expense.
    And yet my heating bills are still double what they were a few years ago

    Isn't it about time somebody asked why we are being forced to pay extortionate energy prices by French and German owned companies, when said companies are supplying their own countries at up to half the cost they are charging us?
    I recently read a report on European energy markets from a German university, which pointed out that our North Sea gas is "traded" on average 17 times before it reaches the consumer in Britain.
    This apparently is due to some energy treaty signed by Blair several years ago.
    The German view appears to be that the treaty is an utter failure and that it is the British consumer that is bearing the brunt of that failure.

    And what is being done to rectify the problem?

  • Comment number 94.

    This is such a hair-brained idea! I wouldn't be too happy about someone installing all of this and then dumping the loan onto a house I'll be looking to purchase! Such a bad idea.

  • Comment number 95.

    Of course this is important. Our energy reserves in the north sea are declining fast and we are now heavily dependent on Russian gas imports and French electricity imports. Not only should we be generating far more energy ourselves but we should be using far less. It makes us more secure and it's just basic financial sense. If we don't, Vladimir Putin will be pulling the strings in this country in a few years and if we think our MP's have dodgy expenses......

  • Comment number 96.

    I have a twenty four year old boiler. It has never let me down. I have no intention of changing it. And if I want to use a 100 watt bulb I will use it. I am a very fed up person who hates dealing with interferring Goverment who love changing things for the sake of it. The Enviroment will change but that is just the natural course of events.

  • Comment number 97.

    Ever tried to install a photo voltaic cell on a thatch roof ?

  • Comment number 98.

    1. This will not benefit those who already struggle to meet rising energy costs.

    2. I think the so called UK energy plan is an attrocious strategy which enslaves users to vastly over expensive energy with no long term decreasing price/cost benefits, which could easily be achieved via a nationalised system built with taxpayers money so that they solely benefit from their OWN investment.

    2a.Once a wind turbine has been built, that investment produces free electricity bar for maintenance costs- if I build one in my garden after initial outlay I do not charge myself for costs of building it, just low maintenance & replacement costs in 25 to 30 years time.

    3. Getting planning permission for wind turbines is still a huge problem.

    4.Reasons for refusing wind turbines are that they will not produce enough energy, which is a really stupid excuse because even if the energy produced is miniscule, it still means that resources are being used to reduce emissions long term. Which is better- use limited resources for a continuous but small amount of clean energy, or use it for some materialistic goods which have no benefit & can only have a negative wasteful impact. I think it better to direct resources & wealth at something that is more sustainable than some frivilous fashionable throw away electronic item, or home or garden objects or even caravans etc.

    5. There is no excuse why new homes presently being built do not include many green benefits, solar water & energy as well as roof rainwater collection for use in toilets, which in itself reduces flow into drainage system & rivers & reduces flooding & also means hugely reduced energy & chemicals etc for cleaning water & transporting it back to homes it came from.

    6.UK energy policy is not just based upon saving emissions, it is increasingly about saving very dangerous and increasingly high amounts of nuclear material for future generations to pay costs of and deal with, and also saving carbon emissions in underground ex-oil/gas fields, again storing up more problems & expense & threats to survival for future generations.

    7. If we can come up with & pay £100s of billions for national debts accumulated via recession & banking fiasco, & for wars, then this same money can & could in future be used to build a sustainable & cheap energy solution for UK.

    8. The criterea to gain government (TAXPAYER) support, is far beyond that which the majority of UK households are capable of meeting, hence it is a very pretentious policy and deceitful in that in making it government know that most cannot meet the demanded criterea, hence will not have to pay out. Might as well say - whoever can lift their own weight above their heads can have free marshmallows for life. Its ridiculous.

    9.Home energy policys are also actually leading to reduction of lifespan of homes & destruction of homes via use of cavity wall insulation. Homes have 2 walls an outer & an inner with a cavity inbetween. A reason for the cavity is to stop long term water seepage transfer from outer wall to inner walls. But now cavity wall insulation bridges that gap, hence millions of homes are now suffering from conditions that they were designed to prevent & are building up future problems, especially for internal wooden floor structures which sit on inner wall & are now more likely to suffer from damp rot.

    10. It seems to me that UK energy policy as with so many, are very pretentious & deceitful and are not radical enough & is based upon profits & not realistic national or environmental need.

    11. How energy efficient is my home? Does it really matter when so much of everything else is just nonsensical, detrimental, unrealist, & unsustainable.

  • Comment number 99.

    Forgive me if I am wrong, but is not the harm in the CO2 footprint at the production stage, the more of the demand the greater the production hence the greater the harm to the environment. If this is the case then rather on spending large amounts of money on individual homes, should we not spend the money on getting cleaner methods on production?

    It has been said that the current housing stock is highly inefficient and that at least 75% of this stock could be around in 50 years time. Retrofitting homes with new technology is difficult, costly and will only provide about 50 of the efficiency if a home was designed with it in the first place.

    Many people do not actually see the benefit of savings as the savings are small and insignificant over the period of the bill, so they will not be motivated into spending money to save later.

    Another barrier to all this is people do not actually believe the hype about climate change. This planet has been around for a very long time and in comparison records have only been kept for an extremely short period of time. Therefore, no one really does know if this is nature or not. Not one man alive can actually say for certain, as this is all theory.

    The final part is that if China, US and India do not do their part it’s all for nothing anyway.

  • Comment number 100.

    A great sounding headline - but how on earth could it actually work? With so much volatility in the labour market people are frequently forced to relocate - does the tax (sorry loan re-payment)then stay with the improved property or with the person comissioning the work, either way does not look like a good proposition to future re-locators!


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