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Huhne heralds green homes 'revolution'

04 November 2010

According to the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), thousands of new insulation workers will soon be hitting Britain’s streets as part of a national effort to make people’s homes warmer and cheaper to run. Chris Huhne (pictured), Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said that by 2015, up to 100,000 Green Deal workers could be employed in the effort to upgrade Britain’s homes. Currently around 27,000 work in the insulation industry.

Legislation to start the process of establishing the Green Deal is due to be introduced into Parliament next month. The Green Deal is the Government’s new and radical way of making energy efficiency available to all, whether people own or rent their property. The work to upgrade the property will be paid back from the saving on energy bills. Chris Huhne, during a visit to British Gas’ Energy Academy in Thatcham, said:

“The Green Deal’s about making people feel as warm as toast in their homes. I want Britain to say goodbye forever to leaky lofts and chilly draughts. At a time of increasing gas prices energy efficiency is a no-brainer.

“It’s also a massive economic and job opportunity which could help Britain’s economy turn the corner. With up to 100,000 green jobs up for grabs over the next 5 years, and even more in the long term, this is about growing our economy in a way that’s good for jobs, the environment and energy security.”

The Green Deal, which is expected to be available from Autumn 2012, will be open to homes and businesses and will involve a 3-step process:

Step 1 – an independent energy survey of the property, giving clear advice on the best energy efficiency options, such as loft or cavity wall insulation.

Step 2 – Green Deal finance to be provided by a range of accredited providers, which will be repaid through savings on energy bills, making properties cheaper to run from day one.

Step 3 – Homes and businesses will then receive their energy efficiency package. Only accredited measures will be installed by appropriately-qualified installers, overseen by Government, giving consumers confidence that the deal they are getting is high-quality and will save them money.

The Government has today also announced measures to improve the energy efficiency of the private rented sector. With Green Deal, landlords will face no upfront costs when improving their properties. The forthcoming Energy Bill will create powers allowing any tenant asking for reasonable energy efficiency improvements to receive them from 2015 onwards.  It will also allow local authorities to insist that landlords improve the worst performing homes. Whether or not we use these powers will be subject to a review.

In September, British Gas announced its plans to “go early” on the Green Deal by investing £30 million in installing energy efficiency measures in its customers’ homes at no up-front cost.  Repayments from customers will be made via savings in their energy bill. 

To help deliver these energy efficiency services, British Gas plans to recruit a total of 3,700 “green-collar” jobs by the end of 2012.  Today, British Gas announced that it has now filled 1,000 of these “green collar” roles across insulation, in-home advice, renewable generation and smart metering. Phil Bentley, Managing Director of British Gas, said:

“With rising energy prices, there’s never been a better time to improve the energy efficiency of Britain’s homes.  That’s why we’ve worked quickly to set up the British Gas Green Deal, a £30million investment in our customers’ homes.  And today, we’re pleased to announce the recruitment of our thousandth green collar worker, who will help deliver the British Gas Green Deal.  In total, we aim to have 3,700 green collar workers in place by 2012.”
In the build up to the Green Deal, 3.5 million more homes across Great Britain are likely to benefit from insulation by 2012 as part of changes to the obligation on energy suppliers announced in June. As part of the changes, 15% of homes helped will be the lowest income households more at risk of fuel poverty.

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