The LibDems have announced that they will offer £100 million to fund new boilers, double glazing and other energy saving improvements in an attempt to fight the rising cost of energy bills for UK homeowners. The Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, said that the new fund is designed to ‘deliver cheaper greener energy’ adding that
- The extra cash will add to rather than replace the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, which has been popular with the public.
- Energy firms have already been told to greatly reduce the time it takes to switch supplier.
- Families will be able to apply for roughly £8000 to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.
Mr Davey said that extending the popular Green Deal Home Improvement Fund will help people install more efficient, cheaper boilers, fit double glazing and improve the insulation of their houses ‘So people can permanently cut their bills’ Those who have moved home in the last year would get around £500, but details of these plans are yet to be confirmed.
The estimated costs of replacing an old boiler with a more efficient one and fitting cavity wall insulation is around £4000, but this can save £200 to £300 every year on the average household energy bill. Solid wall insulation is more costly at between £5000 and £10000, but comes with a greater saving of £400 in heating costs for a home.
Installing solar panels and insulating loft spaces will also be covered, and costs around £6000 with a yearly saving of £200 from energy bills.
Mr Davey blamed the last Labour government for the situation that the energy market is in, saying that ‘Ed Miliband, Labour’s last energy minister, left an energy market dominated by the “Big 6”, with over 99 per cent market share’ He went on to add that the Big 6 energy companies had been ordered to significantly reduce the time it takes for customers to switch energy suppliers, allowing people to shop around for the best deal and change supplier quickly and simply.
‘Miliband had refused to take on these big business interests. Miliband was happy with Labour’s Big six’ said Mr Davey, adding
‘Well, Liberal Democrats weren’t. We could see the dangers to people’s energy bills from Labour’s weak approach to energy competition. After all, fuel poverty had rocketed under Labour’
He claims that the measures they have already put in to place have worked;
.’We’ve nearly trebled the number of smaller firms. Two million people have switched from Labour’s big 6.And prices are now being frozen – or better, in many cases, cut. And despite that success, I want to go much further’
He supports the first ever independent review of the energy market, and says that all the Big 6 are on target to halve switching times as per his demands.
Mr Davey, who was speaking at the LIbDem conference in Glasgow, also laid out other policies that would be implemented if the LibDems were in government after the future election –
- More on shore wind turbines
- Complete ban of coal generated electricity by 2025
- Use of UK gas reserves to bridge the gap
- Controlled and carefully researched fracking
In an attack on their coalition partners, he said that the Tories want to ‘frack every square mile of Britain’, saying that he believes natural gas from fracking will be important in bridging the gap between coal generated electricity and renewable sources, but that exploration should be controlled;
‘But I have had to hold back the Tories’ desire to frack every square mile of Britain. Ensuring that gas exploration is safe. Protecting our national parks, areas of outstanding beauty and world heritage sites. Stopping a Tory free-for-all on fracking.’
Mr Davey sees coal as the main culprit in climate change, saying that;
‘I’m pleased to announce that if the Liberal Democrats are in government after the election, we will legislate to ban the generation of electricity from coal from 2025’
Admitting that renewable sources would not replace coal in this timescale, he said that gas reserves in Britain are the best and most environmentally friendly source of energy to bridge the gap;
“As North Sea gas production falls, we simply cannot afford to turn our back on our own, home grown gas supplies. And I’d far rather use Britain’s gas, than Putin’s gas. Or even Middle East gas. Our own gas is much more secure. And, thanks to our tougher environmental regulations, and not having to ship it round the world, our own gas is better for the climate”
The £100 million of extra funding for the popular Green Deal Home Improvement Fund could make a real difference to the energy bills of thousands of houses across the UK, helping them install new boilers and double glazing, along with extra insulation and saving hundreds of pounds a year. Mr Davey’s attempts to bring more competition into the energy market seem to be having a slow but steady effect, and will hopefully act to increase competition in the future and drive energy bills down for every household.