Recently, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne displayed a passionate yet inspiring outburst encouraging MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee to help reduce carbon emissions by offering financial incentives to the public.
The general idea is that eventually, every household throughout the UK will be ‘energy rated’ (as it stands, only homes sold since October 2008 have been ‘energy rated’). This means that homes which have not been properly insulated will receive higher council tax bills, whilst those with the most energy efficient homes will receive lower bills.
Currently, homes are rated from A through to G. An A rated home means a top score, but very few homes meet the needed criteria. Homes must be triple glazed, with heavily insulated walls and ceilings in addition to solar panels for heating water.
F rated homes include many old terraced properties, that have single glazed sash windows and boilers more than ten years old. G rated homes are usually detached, devoid of loft insulation and single glazed.
But is this fair?
Similar proposals have been discussed before, yet the general consensus is that those living in less insulated homes are often on lower incomes and are thus being penalised for their inability to afford A rated windows and other costly means of insulation.
However this impact is being offset to an extent by government grant schemes allowing poorer households and the elderly access to subsidised insulation. Yet these grants aren’t always enough to cover the entire cost meaning many households are still unable to afford the ‘luxury’ of a warmer home and lower gas bills. Consequently the schemes take-up has been low.
In addition, many lower income households reside in rented accommodation wherein they have no say in the energy rating of their home. Will they be subjected to higher council tax bills simply because their landlord is unwilling to shell out for the necessary upgrades? Or will the government penalise landlords accordingly should their properties fall short of the desired standards?
In fact, in 2009 the Energy Saving Trust proposed a ban on the sale of homes rated the least energy-efficient. While I’m sure this suggestion was made with the very best of intentions, such a ban would place those needing to sell their homes due to financial difficulties in a very difficult position.
However, despite the flawed nature of these ideas, the proposed plans (in their existing state) are still good news for those of us who have taken steps to insulate our homes, or those who plan to in the near future.
For those looking to upgrade their homes and improve the energy rating of their property, Stormclad are able to install A rated windows in Nottingham and the surrounding areas; get in touch if you want to find out more.