Knauf Insulation responds to shadow energy secretary Caroline Flints announcement that the Labour party pledges to insulate five million draughty homes.
Steven Heath, Director Public Affairs and Strategy for Knauf Insulation Northern Europe comments: Caroline Flint was certainly correct when she said that one of the main reasons energy bills are so high currently around £1,300 a year is that our homes are some of the least energy efficient in Europe, leaking heat from their roofs, walls and windows.
However, whilst the Labour commitment to insulate at least five million draughty homes to help families save £272 a year on their heating bill is certainly welcome news, is the target high enough? Put simply; no it is not. Ideally Labours ambitions would need to be increased at least two-fold to really address the problem, but they chose not to. Rather they appear to have limited their ambitions to current Government budget allocations neither committing additional money or considering further regulation or tax incentives.
Whats frustrating is that all of this could be achieved if a very small proportion of the UKs infrastructure budget was allocated to the bricks and mortar of our existing housing stock. Buildings account for more than 40% of the UKs energy demand, with the majority of this being used in our homes. Therefore, making home energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority should be an absolute necessity. Indeed, no other investment can achieve so much to help struggling householders, stimulate economic growth and create jobs in every constituency in the UK. It is also critical to addressing the national challenges of safeguarding energy security and tackling climate change.
So, the Labour party should be applauded. They have recognised that ploughing money into building large infrastructure projects, such as power stations and power distribution networks, without actually reducing core energy demand is a glaring omission that will cost us all. However, now that recognition has been made, it must be followed by a financial commitment that matches the scale of the problem.
Interestingly, the Labour partys stance is in direct contrast to that of David Cameron, who touted infrastructure investments in nuclear and even low carbon shale gas in his recent speech to the UN yet failed to mention energy efficiency in any form. I am keen to see if this is simply the Conservative party keeping its powder dry ahead of next weeks conference announcements, or if its a glaring hole in their election manifesto.