February 12, 2009 / 11:54 AM / 11 years ago

UK plans efficiency retrofits for all homes

LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Britain proposed on Thursday new long-term efficiency and other low-carbon re-fits to 7 million homes by 2020, the cost of which which energy companies would pay for and pass on to all consumers.

Under the proposed scheme, open for consultation from Thursday, any household could apply for a loan from an energy company, using that up-front money to pay for insulation or to install renewable sources of heating.

They would repay the loan from the resulting energy savings and from cash payments paid in return for cutting carbon emissions.

“We need to move from incremental steps forward on household energy efficiency to a comprehensive national plan,” said Energy and Climate Change minister Ed Miliband.

“Energy efficiency and low-carbon energy are the fairest routes to curbing emissions, saving money for families, improving our energy security and insulating us from volatile fossil fuel prices.”

Together the plans aims for all UK homes to be near zero carbon emissions by 2050, the ministry said in a statement announcing its “Heat and Energy Saving strategy”.

Britain has passed a law requiring the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 versus 1990 levels. [ID:nLG196717]

The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates the potential annual fuel saving from the measures — focused especially on reducing heating bills — at 300 pounds ($430) per year per household.

Britain already plans to improve the energy efficiency of some 6 million homes by 2011, and has an existing three-year 3 billion pounds scheme which is adding about 35 pounds to annual household energy bills.

That scheme allows low-income households to get free fittings such as low-energy light bulbs.

Under the latest scheme, households could apply for “whole-house” re-fits including insulation of walls and lofts, fitting of external cladding on walls, and installation of heat pumps or solar thermal panels which gather heat from the ground or sun, respectively.

Communities could also apply for cash payments, although not upfront financing, to supply district heating which produces fewer carbon emissions than centralised fossil fuel power plants, for example from burning wood or producing combined heat and electricity.

Under separate support for low-carbon electricity, Britain has announced plans to allow households from 2010 to earn a premium above consumer power prices for every unit of electricty they feed back in to the grid from solar panels or mini wind turbines, called a feed-in tariff. (Reporting by Gerard Wynn; Editing by Guy Dresser)

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