MPs and energy campaigners are warning that the nosedive in the delivery of energy efficient improvements is putting the vulnerable and elderly at risk.
Household energy efficiency statistics released this week show that the number of boilers installed for vulnerable households as part of government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), is at its lowest in six years.
- British Gas and Scottish Power hike bills for variable tariff customers by up to £119 - more than FIVE times the level of inflation
Only 2,557 boilers were installed in the last three months of 2018 - the lowest on record and 97% down on 2013 when the ECO scheme was launched.
The insulation of lofts and walls has also fallen. There were 6,461 insulation installs between October and December 2018 - 98% down on the same period in 2010.
ECO is a government energy efficiency scheme designed to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty by helping the most vulnerable in society.
Under the scheme, gas and electricity suppliers are obliged to help households with energy efficient measures.
Adam Scorer, chief executive of charity National Energy Action, says: “Last winter saw a record 17,000 excess deaths caused by cold homes. Despite knowing energy efficiency saves money, carbon and lives, the number of insulation measures and boilers installed is falling off a cliff and very little support will have reached those most in need this winter.
“England continues to be the only UK nation without a government-funded programme. We urgently need to stop relying solely on energy suppliers to help the most vulnerable; this is a chronic public health crisis and government also has to step-up”.
Rachel Reeves, Labour MP and chair of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee, says: “Improving the energy efficiency of buildings plays a crucial role in tackling fuel poverty and is a cost-effective way to reduce our carbon emissions.
"Despite this, the government’s statistics underline the cold reality that the current rate of energy efficiency improvements is far too slow.”
The NEA says installations have plummeted because of a delay in passing legislation and issuing guidance by the government meant suppliers were unsure about costs. A cap introduced on the number of boilers last October also limited the number that could be installed.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP and co-chair of the All-Party Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency, says: “It’s incredibly worrying to see the delivery of energy efficiency measures taking a nosedive.
"With thousands of people dying in cold homes each winter and even more living in fuel poverty, the government’s failure to insulate homes is a dereliction of its duty to vulnerable people.”