There has been massive interest from across the UK in St Albans District Council’s “eco-house” retro-fitted energy efficient council house in Smallford, St Albans.
Now the Liberal Democrats have announced radical new national proposals that if adopted would make local privately-owned homes more environmentally-friendly too and cut local resident’s fuel bills.
The Liberal Democrat plans would:
- More than halve the amount of polluting carbon emissions produced by homes in St Albans and the surrounding villages;
- Make home insulation more affordable for local people;
- Reduce fuel bills, lifting pensioners and others on low incomes out of fuel poverty.
This will be achieved by:
- Setting tough new GreenHouse standards for new homes which would cut fuel bills and soon pay for themselves;
- Creating a system of ‘energy mortgages’, so the cost of energy efficiency measures can be repaid over the long-term, using the money saved from lower energy bills;
- Placing new incentives on energy companies, so they maximise their profits by helping their customers become more energy efficient.
Improving the energy efficiency of homes here in St Albans and across the nation is crucial to combating climate change, as home energy consumption produces over a quarter of all of our carbon emissions in the UK.
In 2004, the latest year for which we have figures, homes here in St Albans district produced an astonishing 372 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s 2.9 tonnes per person just for being at home - before any car or air travel! I have already published my own energy audit on this website, and figures for my own family’s domestic energy consumption make for sobering reading.
I am really proud of the example set by St Albans with the Smallford eco-house. It has shown what can be done. Now this new package of proposals the Liberal Democrats are putting forward would reduce carbon emissions from existing private homes by more than 60 per cent, and from newly built houses by 95 per cent, by 2050. That is more carbon than is produced annually by all the cars on Britain’s roads. Locally it would mean 264,000 fewer tonnes of polluting carbon dioxide from homes across St Albans district.
Millions of people struggle to pay their fuel bills each winter, yet are unable to afford improvements on their homes to make them more energy efficient. Creating a national scheme of ‘energy mortgages’ will allow people to use the money saved from having an energy efficient home to invest in the necessary improvements.
People are paying high fuel bills because their homes too easily lose energy. Currently, British homes waste an average of £385 a year in energy compared with Sweden. So our proposals will help people save the environment and cut bills – it’s a win-win for everyone.