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Who Cares About Energy Efficiency?

3 May 2017

chris-coxon-talking-headWhen was the last time you heard anything about energy efficiency? A cold call suggesting you might be eligible for a new boiler or loft insulation? A leaflet tucked in with your energy bill?

Chris Coxon, Head of Marketing at Eurocell, looks at the recent ECO reforms.

As a consumer, the messages that we currently receive all centre on free energy efficiency measures for those on low income or benefits. This approach was underlined recently as reforms to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme were announced. Jesse Norman, minister for energy and industry said: “The Government is committed to tackling fuel poverty, and a key part of that is to help people keep bills down by living in more energy efficient homes”.

While it is very important that we tackle the problems of fuel poverty and poor housing, what about all those energy inefficient homes occupied by people who don’t meet the criteria for freebies? With the Green Deal gone, there are no messages being put out to those who have money to spend on home improvements or the wherewithal to take out loans.

The reforms to ECO mean that whereas previously 36% of ECO funds were spent on reducing fuel poverty, 70% of ECOs are now allocated to that task. Although this isn’t quite so impressive when we note that the annual value of ECOs has fallen from £1.3bn per year in 2013 when the scheme first started to an estimated £640m a year now – so that the amount spent on fuel poverty will actually be less.Some of the ECO funding does go towards properties that require solid wall or hard-to-treat cavity insulation. However, under the ECO reforms, such cases receive a smaller piece of a much smaller pie.

The minimum number of External Wall Insulation (EWI) installations that must be delivered has fallen from 25,000 to 21,000 – and it would have been less, had the industry not protested so loudly during the consultation period. The hope was that ECO schemes would pump prime the EWI industry, so that it could offer good value solutions to Joe Public.

The Bonfield Review on energy efficiency standards and consumer advice, Each Home Counts, called for was a dedicated campaign to raise awareness on the benefits of investing in energy efficiency improvements.

The roll-out of smart meters was flagged up as a possible opportunity for doing that; however, since the deadline for every house to have a smart meter is 2020, there’s every chance that this opportunity will be missed.

At the moment, the only message people are hearing de-values energy efficiency upgrades, telling them that improvements should be free. What we should be telling people is the opposite: ‘invest in energy efficiency measures because they are worth a lot, both in cash terms and in comfort terms’.

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