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New Initiative Launched to Improve Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Housing

by Sarah Halloran

One of the most cost effective methods of cutting emissions is through improving energy efficiency in the UK’s existing housing stock.  Whilst on the surface this might sound quite easy, it’s actually quite a challenge.  Four out of five homes in the UK are owned privately and to date nobody has been able to successfully deliver an efficient method of managing a large scale retrofit project such as this.  One initiative, the Government’s Green Deal, is designed to help, but there are many hurdles to jump in order to make this a success.

Whilst more and more homeowners might be focusing on recycling and being more self-sufficient, there is still major work to be done to encourage improvements to energy consumption.  Switching off the odd light switch here and using less water there is a great start, but simply isn’t having a dramatic impact on improving energy efficiency nationwide.  With this in mind, a new initiative is being launched to address the challenges faced by homeowners on a financial and advisory level.

Refit West is a revolutionary new scheme which as assisted private homeowners to reduce how much energy they use in their homes, whilst Forum for the Future has formulated a practical model that will see whole houses being retrofitted across the country.

A report, released by Forum for the Future, entitled ‘Update from the front line: real homeowner retrofit journeys and barriers the Green Deal must overcome’ shares insights and experiences of the customer journey and highlights areas that still need to be addressed by the Green Deal initiative.

Forum for the Future has been working on a pilot project together with a small number of other pioneers in Bristol and the West of England.  This project hopes to make this region one of the most sustainable in the UK.  The project has taken a broad spectrum of properties filled with homeowners who are committed to improving the energy consumption and efficiency of their properties.   The experiences of these homeowners will help the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Energy Saving Trust in their development of a nationwide scheme for energy efficiency.

Despite the best efforts of the Government and environmental agencies, residential carbon emissions have fallen by only 6% since 1990.  That’s a worrying statistic when you consider how many initiatives and advertising campaigns there have been during this time.  However, the work of the Forum for the Future is essential to ensure we meet our national carbon reduction targets.

It’s really important, says Forum for the Future, to empower homeowners, giving them all the information and cost effective options they require to improve energy efficiency.  This includes designing effective solutions, ensuring suppliers offer value for money and quality services and solutions, and to build confidence and trust in the emerging market.  Working with Refit West, Forum for the Future has developed some innovative financial models that will help homeowners to invest the necessary capital costs required for retrofitting their homes to make them more energy efficient.

In order for this initiative to work, it’s important that key elements are in place including providing financial incentives, creating demand amongst homeowners and ensuring a professional workforce with the necessary skills is available to carry out the refit works.

In time, Forum for the Future aims to create a replicable model that can be rolled out across the whole of the UK and to increase the demand by homeowners for energy efficiency works.

A recording of the webinar held by Ben Ross and Refit West homeowner Chris Priest on 25th March is now available on the 2degreesnetwork website for registered members of 2degrees.

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