There is a third way to get our energy bills down and that’s to take the shackles off ECO

Matt Fulford

The recent rises in energy costs, while not un-expected (expect bills to continue to rise by 8-10% a year for at least the next seven years), have stirred much political reaction from price freezes to fashion advice.

If the energy companies assertions are to be believed then 10% of the cost of energy is due to “government led green programmes”, where the highest percentage increase of 15% have been seen. This is code for suggesting that the ECO (Energy Company Obligation) programme is far more expensive than its predecessor, CESP and CERT.

These are the programmes that have provided all that free and discounted loft and cavity wall insulation but have become far more complex since the start of the year. They have now moved away from the “easier” measures of loft and cavity insulation on to “hard to treat” measures such as solid wall insulation.

There is a third way to reducing our energy bills

They have also become much stricter in their targeting aiming at those groups with greater propensity to be in fuel poverty.

These two features combined together mean that it has become much more expensive to run and to implement. This is not because we have completed all the “easy to treat” properties, as the levels of un-decent homes in the private rented sector shows, it is because someone in government thought they should tighten the rules and make it more difficult on the energy companies.

There is a third way to reducing our energy bills. That is to focus on using the obligations on the energy companies to give the maximum carbon reduction for the lowest cost.

Let’s remove the raft of complex rules on what measures and who can benefit (albeit some sensible limits of restricting to domestic properties or those building occupied by charities and perhaps not to higher rate tax payer could be wise). The result should be lower energy bills of around 2-3% (if the energy companies pass this on to consumers) and greater carbon reduction and therefore energy reduction for a wider range of people.

It may also help the construction industry in a greater volume of insulation project happening quicker as they are less complex to find and implement.

Matt Fulford is the director of Inspired Efficiency