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Barker seeks to bin “boring” image of energy efficiency

Green policy news – by GreenWise staff
1st March 2012
Greg Barker has said he wants to do away with the "boring" image of energy efficiency, as the Government tries to drum up interest in the Green Deal before it launches in October.
Speaking to business leaders from the property industry about the Green Deal yesterday, the Energy and Climate Change Minister said energy efficiency had never been more important, but it was still viewed as "dirty, dusty loft insulation" by most people.

"We want to take energy efficiency from the image of dirty, dusty loft insulation to cosy living rooms and beautiful houses. From loft to living room and boring to bling," he told the British Property Federation’s Annual Residential Conference. 

"No longer will every discussion of energy efficiency require the obligatory picture of a hearty workman in a face mask cheerfully laying another roll of loft insulation in some cramped dusty loft."

Energy efficiency viewed as a hassle
The Green Deal will enable homeowners and businesses to access loans for loft and cavity wall insulation, lagging and other energy efficiency measures. The Government says it will see billions of pounds lent every year and create 250,000 jobs between now and 2020. But there is evidence that homeowners view energy efficiency improvements, such as loft insulation, as a hassle and businesses and investors are concerned the scheme will not deliver the required take-up. 
 
Research by energy supplier E.ON last year found that one in 10 UK homeowners "couldn’t be bothered" to have their homes insulated, while the Government's own impact assessment forecasts that several factors will severely limit the take-up of the Green Deal, including the hassle of having builders in to carry out the work. 

There are six million lofts and 6.3 million cavity walls in the UK that are poorly insulated, but the impact assessment suggests just 10 per cent of lofts will be properly lagged and just 1.7 million cavity walls will treated by 2020 under the Green Deal.

Green Deal: Consumer at the centre of policy
Barker said yesterday the Green Deal offered a new way of tacking energy efficiency by putting the "consumer at the centre of the policy". 

The Government estimates that this year up to 4.1 million households will be in fuel poverty in England alone as they struggle to pay their bills and are hit by rising energy prices. 

To kickstart the Green Deal, the Government has announced a £200 million injection of Government funding to provide a time limited introductory offer. This could be in the form of a £150 cashback to consumers that take up the scheme. 
 
"It demonstrates that we are serious about hitting the ground running," Barker said about the 'sweetener’.

The University of East Anglia is currently undertaking research with the help of DIY retailer B&Q on how potential customers can be incentivised to invest in energy efficiency measures through the Green Deal.

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