Following up on Gordon Brown’s ‘Green New Deal’ pledge, the government has announced that it will oversee a complete upgrade of British housing in order to make homes greener. The targets set last month outline the government’s objectives to completely overhaul the way homes are constructed and also to upgrade all existing houses by 2030.
The ambitious targets of reducing the carbon footprint of homes across the UK will represent a massive overhaul not just of the way homes are built and invested in, but also of the mindset of homeowners and construction companies who will demand tangible benefits from any outlaying of money. While wall insulation is of course the best way of reducing heat loss through external walls, the government will seek to introduce a series of economic measures designed to make investment in all household green technologies a viable option.
Currently, one proposal is to offer low interest loans to homeowners and landlords to spur investment in property refurbishment in order to make homes greener. This option would be an effective way of reducing the heating efficiency of homes and enable the installation of smart meters which will be essential in the future as a way of monitoring energy usage and will be essential to manage feed-in tariffs (FIT).
Feed-in tariffs could prove to be an extremely effective way for the UK government to make homes across the UK greener. The tariffs, when introduced in 2010 will offer long-term contracts to those investing in renewable energy technology in their homes. The idea is to offer premium, fixed rates for energy fed- in to the national grid by small (under 5mW), renewable energy producers. The plan is that the tariffs will spark investment in technologies such as photovoltaic (PV) which will enable households to greatly reduce their carbon footprint by installing solar technology. The principle of the tariff is to incentivise investors by offsetting the obvious costs of investing in green plant and guaranteeing a yield on the investment of a long-term period.
Speaking on behalf of the housing association Peabody, Stephen Howlett commented on feed-in tariffs stating,
“Ensuring greater use of renewable energy through feed-in tariffs and the renewable heat incentive could offer real opportunities for us to create a package of carbon-reduction measures, based on financial models we have been working on for some time”.