Ed Miliband coincides announcement with first day of summit at Copenhagen and second reading of Energy Bill

Around 500 British homes are to undergo “energy makeovers” as part of a government trial to test ways of financing the refurbishment of the country’s existing housing stock.

Energy minister Ed Miliband announced today that a group of local authorities and businesses have been chosen to carry out projects under the £4m Pay as You Save scheme. They are Birmingham City Council, Gentoo, Sunderland, British Gas, B&Q UK and Stroud District Council.

The announcement was timed to coincide with the first day of talks in Copenhagen, which aim to secure a global deal on climate change.

The pilot projects will allow householders to invest in energy efficiency and microgeneration technologies with no upfront cost. They will then repay the cost over a long enough period of time that repayments are lower than predicted energy bill savings.

Miliband said: “The next two weeks in Copenhagen are crunch time for the planet. The UK has taken a lead in putting solutions on the table throughout the process so far and I’ll not rest until we have the most ambitious, effective and fair deal possible.”

He added: “One quarter of the UK’s total emissions come from homes, so householders have to be a part of the solution to climate change. Increasing the energy efficiency of homes not only helps reduce emissions, but will also help reduce fuel bills.”

The Energy Bill also receives its second reading in the House of Commons today.