Rising fuel prices in the UK are boosting demand for an innovative government home retrofit scheme that reduces fuel bills for poorer families and saves thousands of tons of CO2 emissions a year. Since it began eight years ago, the scheme has brought relief to millions of UK citizens.
Poor insulation and inefficient heating systems are major contributors to huge fuel bills that put pressure on poorer families in the UK. Two programs are tackling the problem. One, run by the UK government, is called . It's a scheme which offers low-income families a one-off grant to improve insulation and in some cases, new central heating systems. The other, called the Heat Project, is funded by utility companies under a legal commitment to improve energy efficiency.
Both programs are ready for export anywhere in the world.
With global energy prices rising, the cost of gas, the fuel used for most domestic heating systems in the UK, has been soaring. Last week, two energy companies by 25% to 30%. Higher energy prices along with the generally rising cost of living means even more families this winter may be tempted to do without heating, putting health at risk. A spokesman for Warm Front said that it had seen a sharp increase in inquiries in recent weeks compared to the previous summer.
The scheme works in a simple way, with most customers not having to outlay any of their own money. Citizens who meet certain criteria – such as receiving social security benefits – are visited by a Warm Front inspector who assesses their home’s energy efficiency and makes recommendations such as introducing insulating foam into cavity walls, improving draft proofing and loft insulation, and in some cases fitting a new, more energy-efficient boiler.
The work is carried out by an approved contractor who bills Warm Front, which covers the full cost, unless it is above £2,700 ($5,000 USD).
Warm Front says the scheme has benefited 1.7 million homes since 2000, with the average household saving £300 ($560 USD) a year in lower heating ills. In 2007/08 its work resulted in an average reduction in carbon emissions of up to 7.1 tons per house, or 1.2 tons of CO2 every year for the next 20 years.
Warm Front makes its audience aware of the scheme through targeted promotion, such as at clinics offering flu shots to vulnerable people and through healthcare workers, who emphasize the health benefits of better housing.
A similar scheme is is funded by utility companies under a legal commitment to improve energy
efficiency. It offers grants to pay for insulation, as well as free insulation for elderly homeowners. It says it has saved an of CO2 through the scheme since 1997.
The beauty of these schemes is that they reduce fuel emissions, reduce fuel bills and put people in warmer, healthier homes. The energy savings mean the scheme effectively pays for itself.