Warm Homes, Greener Homes strategy aims to cut emissions from UK homes by 29% in 10 years

The government has unveiled plans for greening existing homes. The Warm Homes, Greener Homes strategy announced by energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband, aims to cut emissions from UK homes by 29% by 2020.

The strategy will be implemented in a three stages:

  • to insulate six million homes by the end of 2011
  • to have insulated all practical lofts and cavity walls by 2015
  • and to have offered up to seven million eco upgrades by 2020 as well fitting all homes with smart meters.

As part of the package legislation will now be put in place to allow new "pay as you save" green loans to be tied to a property, which will avoid the up-front cost of eco upgrades and instead add a charge to the home's energy bill. A consultation will also be held on setting minimum energy efficiency standards for rented property.

Miliband said: “The Warm Homes, Greener Homes strategy will remove the deterrent of upfront costs and reduce the hassle of the move to greener living. Making homes more energy efficient will help protect people from upward pressure on bills, tackle climate change, and make us less reliant on imported energy”.

He added that new "pay as you save" green finance as well as moves to encourage landlords to stop ignoring energy wastage in their properties, will help deliver the radical transformation that's necessary.

The UK Green Building Council said the government announcement was a welcome move. Paul King, chief executive, said: “The biggest barrier to low-carbon refurbishment - the upfront cost - is set to fall. Pay as you save is a radical scheme, which could trigger a revolution in household refurbishment - creating at least 100,000 new jobs, saving money and conserving energy.”

The CBI, which has been calling for measures that will have an immediate effect on household emissions, gave a more cautious. Neil Bentley, director of business environment, said: “Given that all homes need to be properly insulated within five years, much more needs to be done now to get millions of households on board. Helping people overcome the upfront costs by rolling out pay as you save schemes is a step in the right direction. But even if they are willing to sign up for these loans, this scheme is still a few years away”.

Measures called for by the CBI include council tax rebates for the most energy-efficient houses, tax breaks to encourage firms to help staff insulate homes and a white goods scrappage scheme.

The British Property Federation (BPF), however, has reacted angrily to the proposals put forward for the private rented sector. Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the BPF, said: “While some target setting from government can be helpful in changing behaviour, the idea that a private rented property will have to meet a minimum level of insulation before it can be rented out is ill thought out.