Energy drive needs street-by-street revolution

UNISON, the UK’s largest public service union, is calling for a revolutionary house by house, street by street drive to deliver massive energy savings across the UK.

The call from delegates to the union’s annual Energy Conference in Liverpool cites the challenging change-over from town to natural gas as the blueprint for bringing real cost savings to every home in the country.

The union accuses energy companies and the Government of wasting valuable time and opportunity to deliver a revolution in the housing stock and of giving customers a fairer deal. Starting with some of the poorest areas, the union is proposing the roll out of a national, house-by-house drive to drive down energy consumption. This would wipe out complaints from energy companies who say that they have insulation and energy saving schemes in place, but have no way of reaching out to people qualifying for help. This has led to the ridiculous situation where one energy company was so desperate to avoid fines for missing energy-efficiency targets, they were offering customers a £100 incentive to have free home insulation.

In contrast, a Green the Country’s programme would save energy, create jobs and cut household bills. The programme would be cost neutral because the plethora of wasteful schemes have turned current energy saving schemes into a financial fiasco.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said:

“We need imagination and vision to plan real energy savings for the long-term future. The conversion from town to natural gas should act as the blueprint for a national programme to create energy efficient homes. We must stop the obscene amount of heat that goes out of our windows, doors, walls straight up into the atmosphere.

“Green deal schemes are complicated and the public are nervous and suspicious about the costs involved. Meanwhile energy companies continue to make massive profits on the back of rising prices and a housing stock that hemorrhages energy.”

The union is warning that fuel poverty is a growing blight on the country. Hundreds and thousands of people are joining the growing numbers who spend more than 10% of their household income on energy costs.

A report* by the Association for the Conservation of Energy puts the UK lowest for energy poverty out of 13 comparable western European countries. And near the bottom of league tables on affordability, homes in a poor state of repair, thermal performance and the gap between current thermal performance and what they optimal level of insulation should be in each country.

UNISON is supporting the Energy Bill Revolution which states “Recycling carbon revenue to make homes super-energy efficient could bring 9 out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty. It could also be used to quadruple savings in carbon emissions compared to the Government’s new energy efficiency schemes and create up to 200,000 jobs; exactly what we need to support the UK’s economic recovery.

* The Cold Man of Europe