Help to green our homes

Proposals to help us green our homes should encourage more people to undertake environment-saving initiatives. The Warmer Homes, Greener Homes Strategy outlines a number of ways to help home owners, as well those living in private-rented accommodation, adopt energy-saving measures that will keep houses warmer and reduce energy.

Many of us have already changed to low-energy lightbulbs and have double-glazing, while grants are available to some to help increase loft insulation and cavity-wall insulation. Up to now the cost of installing larger energy-saving measures, such as solar panels, has been prohibitive to many, particularly if you weren’t planning to live long-term in the house. Solar panels cost over £10,000 to fit and it takes at least 1o years to start recouping the investment – thus putting off many people. In Germany the take-up has been greater, purely down to generous grants provided by the government to help householders install eco measures.

The proposals announced this week include pay as you save green loans that will be linked to the property, avoiding the up-front cost of eco upgrades. With the loan fixed against the home it will be inherited if you move house, with the new owner taking on the annual charge but continuing to benefit from lower bills.

There will also be help to those in private rented accommodation where by 2015 landlords will be required to upgrade loft and cavity insulation. This has been a difficult area to achieve change in, particularly necessary as there’s a lot of houses in the private sector that need upgrading and house low-income families. These measures should make homes more comfortable, warmer and cheaper to run.

A quarter of UK emissions come from energy used in homes and the aim of the strategy is to cut emissions from home by 29% by 2020. Making it easier is a big step forward.

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