New £1billion scheme to insulate UK homes ahead of winter

Boris Johnson has reportedly asked ministers to divert more than £1billion from existing government programs to target the insulation of poorer households ahead of winter in a bid to shield vulnerable people from rising costs of living .

The Times says the money could be transferred from the £1billion public sector decarbonisation scheme, which aims to increase the energy efficiency of schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

The plans would involve the government supplementing and expanding the Energy Company Obligation scheme, which helps fuel-poor customers insulate their homes, so that middle-income households can also access the scheme if people wish to contribute.

Chris Skidmore, a Tory MP who founded the Net Zero support group, told the newspaper the government needed to prioritize programs that cut energy use amid soaring energy prices.

He said: “The quickest and easiest way to tackle the cost of living crisis is to invest in insulation which has the potential to save £150-400 on energy bills – an investment to permanently reduce bills year after year.”

It comes after the E.on boss pleaded for the government to invest in improving the energy efficiency of homes in the UK to reduce bills and carbon.

Michael Lewis said the country needed a “massive acceleration” of insulation and other energy efficiency projects.

He told MPs on the environmental audit committee: ‘Our plea to government has always been to push hard for energy efficiency because it is the proven way, the only silver bullet, for this crisis.

“It will reduce prices, reduce energy consumption and contribute to net-zero in a sustainable way.

“So the next phase in solving this problem must be a massive acceleration of measures to manage energy efficiency.”

He admitted it might take several decades for every house in the country – there are 19 million that need more insulation – to be up to date, but he said there are also things which can be done quickly.

The UK has the least airtight housing stock in Europe, with many older homes that weren’t built with insulation.

If all 19 million homes are properly insulated, it will save the equivalent of six nuclear power stations in energy, Mr Lewis said.

He added: “We have to start now. And most importantly, we need to send a signal to the supply chain that it’s worth training people, it’s worth investing in labor and skills and all that that entails .

“Because one of the issues we’ve had with energy efficiency is stop-start, and that leads to a lack of confidence in companies engaged in this type of work and means that the supply chain doesn’t prepare for this huge, huge challenge ahead.

Mr Lewis also called for a bigger scheme that can help provide upfront funding for those who can afford to pay for their own upgrades.

Tying this to a mortgage when someone buys a house would be an alternative, the money would be recouped over time as homeowners save on their bills.