Chapter 8: Warmer Homes Lower Bills

Chapter 8: Warmer Homes Lower Bills
8.1 Introduction
Our homes are the greatest single source of carbon emissions in the UK, providing
27% of total emissions. Most of this, 73%, comes from space and water heating,
while the balance is from lighting, appliances and cooking, as shown in Homes
Figures 1.1
Homes Figure 1: UK Carbon Emissions by Sector2
Emissions from the current housing stock are likely to be much greater than from any
new housing over the next few years, and so any attempt to reduce household
emissions must focus much of its effort on the existing stock.3 Reducing the high
level of emissions will mean implementing a wide variety of measures, from loft and
1 Office of Climate Change (2007) OCC Household Emissions Project: Analysis Pack Office of Climate Change p.5
2 Department of Trade and Industry (2007) Meeting the Energy Challenge: A White Paper on Energy Department of
Trade and Industry p.328
3 70% of the housing stock of 2050 is already built (OCC Above p.9) While there is very little new build housing
planned on or around Dartmoor (excluding the new town near Totnes) there is some scope within this plan to require
true zero carbon standards in both the build and operation of new dwellings. This is dealt with by objective 8.4 at the
end of this chapter. .
cavity wall insulation to solid wall insulation for hard to treat homes. There will also
be a need to look at alternative heating fuel options for homes not on the gas grid, and
which currently use heating oil.
Of all the different opportunities, loft and cavity wall insulation is the most
significant, because there are a large number of eligible properties, it is comparatively
cheap and has fast payback (as shown in Homes Figure 2), and there is an existing
mechanism for delivery. .
Home Figure 2: Non-Financial Reasons for Low Uptake of Energy Efficiency
Measures 7
8.2 Barriers to Installing Fuel Efficiency Measures in Homes.
There are several barriers to increasing uptake of efficiency measures. These are:
limited data; cost (and lack of awareness of schemes, grants and discounts which can reduce
it) and a range of non-financial barriers, including lack of knowledge of the benefits
of insulation. This section looks at them in turn.
8.2.1 Limited data as a barrier to increasing energy efficiency in homes
No information is yet available which identifies the individual houses requiring
insulation on Dartmoor4, or which households are likely to be prepared to install it.
7 OCC (above) p.10
As Chapter 3, Where is Dartmoor says, “Dartmoor” for the purposes of this plan includes the moor’s surrounding
towns and their hinterlands.
So far as Dartmoor and the surrounding area are concerned, there is a need for
comprehensive GIS mapping, ideally based on aerial photography supplemented by a
house to house survey. Once prepared, the maps and the database which underpins
them can be interrogated, to identify which households should be approached
regarding a particular initiative.
8.2.2 Cost as a barrier to uptake to increasing energy efficiency in homes.
For many people, cost is not a barrier to take up of energy efficiency measures.
Draught-proofing and insulating a water tank usually costs only a few pounds. Loft
and cavity wall insulation costs only a few hundred pounds. Grants are often
available, dependent on age and income. These mean that loft and cavity wall
insulation is currently free to everyone across most of Dartmoor who is over 59, on
qualifying benefits, or where the combined total household income is less than
£18000 per year.5 Even the associated costs of a loft hatch, core vents, additional
area to be insulated, and access equipment can be reduced for people in these groups.
The most anyone else is asked to contribute is £150 towards loft insulation and £170£200 for cavity wall insulation.
There are two difficulties, however. The first is that (if the national trend applies in
Devon) some eligible people do not apply for free grants, because they do not wish to
be means tested. . This is particularly true of older people, who often find means
testing intrusive and demeaning, but this is arises from a misunderstanding, since
there is no means-testing for people over 70 in Devon.6 The funding may also fail to
reach many younger people with families, who consequently fall into fuel poverty.
Also, the grants do not pay for some associated costs, such as the cost of emptying a
loft. This is important – some older people need help to empty their loft, and if it is
not available, can not take up an insulation grant.
The cost barrier is more serious in the case of insulation for solid walled properties,
which form 33.4% of housing in Devon as a whole (and perhaps up to 50% whithin
Dartmoor National Park). This is very expensive, with a very long payback period,
which can be up to 13 years. There are no grants for such insulation on or around
Dartmoor,6 despite the fact that nationally 50% of people who are fuel-poor live in
such hard to treat dwellings.
A household is considered to be in fuel poverty where over 10% of the household
income is used on heating. Data from the CSE 2008 Fuel Poverty Indicator suggests
there were 18,921 houses in fuel poverty within Devon (excluding Plymouth and
In North Devon, people aged under 70 and in households with a total income below £18000 per year need to
contribute £99 towards the cost of both cavity wall and loft insulation.
6 Help the Aged (2008) Fuel Poverty: Help the Aged Policy Statement 2008 Help the Aged
Warmfront” is a government scheme which provides grant funding to householders who are eligible because of age,
or sickness and disability, and are also in receipt of income-related benefit. Warmfront grants may be used for loft and
cavity insulation and the installation of efficient heating systems.
Torbay), but this is based on data taken at low point of energy costs (2001 and 2003),
and so true figure likely to be far higher now). . This is a higher than average
incidence, as a result of a higher than average proportion of pensioner households,
and of homes which are “hard to treat” and are occupied by people on lower than
average incomes.5
, The proportion is likely to be even greater on Dartmoor, because there are many
homes which are off the gas grid, and heating oil is expensive. It is estimated that
twice as many people in oil-heated homes are in fuel poverty as those in other homes,
and such homes may represent 15% of the housing stock.
The other approach to reducing household carbon emissions, apart from installing
insulation and addressing other issues such as draught proofing and heating controls
is to provide a renewable energy alternative. The most common, and often most cost
effective, alternative is solar hot water. Such installations have a comparatively high
capital cost and the repayment period varies considerably according to the level of
hot water use (especially in the summer) and the type of fuel it replaces. The result is
that many householders are understandably reluctant to pay the high initial capital
cost for a renewable installation, even if they have could find the money, which most
would find difficult. Also, renewables are not suited to all houses. Solar, for
example, depends on unimpeded access to sunlight, and in a conservation area or on a
listed building requiring planning consent.
While cost can be a very serious barrier, it is at least matched in severity by the nonfinancial barriers.
8.2.3 Non-Financial Barriers to Increasing Energy Efficiency in Households
One of the principal reasons people do not consider energy efficiency measures is
that they are not very aware of their electricity and gas costs. Bills may be estimated
or actual, and are often difficult to read.
Even where people are aware of the cost of their electricity and gas, however, they
may have other reasons for not acting. These can vary according to the social group
to which people below, as shown in Home Figure 3.
5 Devon Local Strategic Partnership(2007) Devon Local Area Agreement 2008-2011: Reducing Fuel Poverty
Home Figure 3: Non-Financial Reasons for Low Uptake of Energy
Efficiency Measures 7
The Energy Savings Trust (EST) Devon programme targets the first three of these
groups, and section 8.3.2 proposes a partnership with EST to increase the amount
assistance available to each, adapting the offer to meet their concerns. It would also
be possible to refine the approach using the Experian MOSAIC detailed classification
scheme, which is already used by Energy Action Devon for its Cosy Devon
Some people have concerns other than those on the above list. For example, older
people, and those who feel vulnerable at home may be reluctant to allow anybody
into their property, or need to move items stored in the loft before any insulation can
be done, and may find this very difficult to do. There is scope for discussion with
Home Improvement Agencies to see whether help with loft clearance could be
delivered by them. Alternatively, volunteers in each community might be able to
The non-financial impediments mentioned here is not an exhaustive list. For
example, external solid wall insulation will need planning consent for listed
buildings, and perhaps other homes within the Park. The activities proposed in the
next section will be delivered taking these other factors into account.
7 OCC (above) p.12
8.3 Solutions: Helping People Undertake Energy Efficiency Measures in
Their Homes
The effectiveness of the majority of energy efficiency measures means that it is well
worthwhile trying to overcome the difficulties outlined in the previous section. There
are a number of solutions which would do this, and they are discussed below.
8.3.1 Gathering Detailed Data
The lack of information about which houses need insulation and other measures, and
which householders are most likely to accept it, can be addressed through door to
door surveys. This is, however, very labour intensive, particularly in rural
For this reason, it would be best to begin by undertaking aerial mapping. Digital
photography can be used, with the results entered into a database which holds
information on the average age of properties. Social indicators, from census returns
or from providers such as Experian, can be entered into the database. Energy
consumption data, if made available by energy companies, can also be added. When
these three sets of data are combined, GIS maps can be generated showing housing
blocks by age and type, overlaid with information on the propensity of occupiers to
accept insulation and other measures. The age of dwellings is important, as Figure
Homes 2 shows – and any programme to reduce emissions needs to be adapted to
offer solutions appropriate to each housing type.
This will provide a good initial dataset, but the information needs to be validated.
This can only be done by visiting householders, starting with those who are shown by
the GIS data as most promising.
In some communities, and to a limited degree, this door-to-door survey work can be
undertaken by volunteers. This is very valuable, but for more comprehensive
coverage, especially in rural areas, paid workers are more appropriate. This would
only be feasible if it were undertaken as part of a subsidised job creation scheme such
as the Future Jobs Fund. Dartmoor Circle Limited has expressed interest in
delivering 22 jobs under this fund and is exploring whether they may be recruited to
undertake this survey work.
The authors have not been able to identity any work done in another rural area on
such a scale, or in such detail. It would, therefore, provide a useful case-study, which
other areas could learn from. The data would also be very useful to district councils,
poverty action groups, and others. For all these reasons, Dartmoor Circle proposes,
with support from partner agencies, to create a footprinting resource able to undertake
this work and to make the results widely available.
Homes Figure 2: Profile of Energy Performance in Existing Dwelling Stock,
8.3.2 Solutions to Lack of Finance for Energy Efficiency Measures.
So far as people in fuel poverty are concerned, any solution requires a partnership
between both installation and grant providers, on the one hand, and health providers
4 OCC (as above) p.9
and older people's representatives on the other. This is because the former need help
to increase uptake of their services, while the latter can reach people in fuel poverty
and supply some financial support. Help the Aged, in particular, has expertise in
assisting older people to access unclaimed benefits, which can help people maximise
the funding available to them.
Once all those partners have agreed to support a programme in a particular locality,
the authors believe it would be useful to fund older people in that area to act as
ambassadors, and helping their peers to obtain insulation and other measures.8
The suggested link with state health providers is in recognition of the fact that the
Department of Health has responsibility for excess winter deaths, and cold homes can
exacerbate existing health problems and may contribute to such deaths. Dartmoor
Circle proposes that discussions be help with local and national health agencies, to
create a pilot in the Greater Dartmoor area which helps those agencies meet such
Of course, many people who are not in fuel poverty face financial constraints, as
outlined in the previous section. . Dartmoor Circle will work with an existing
Community Development Finance Institution to create a renewable energy loan fund
which will help to provide the initial capital for solid wall insulation, repayable from
a secured loan on property, and where repayments are as near as possible equivalent
to fuel cost savings. The fund could also be used for solar hot water and other
renewables where these are appropriate for people in other homes.
8.3.4 Solutions to Non-financial Barriers to Uptake of Energy Efficiency
The group of people who have enough money to pay for improvements, but choose
not do so, has been segmented into a number of different sub-groups. That
segmentation is shown Home Figure 3 showed the segmentation of groups of people
who could pay for efficiency measures according to the reason why they might not do
It showed, for example, that affluent couples who have larger homes, higher incomes
and are environmentally aware are comparatively likely to adopt energy saving
solutions. Younger well educated couples and professionals, and older people who
have reasonably high incomes and low mortgages, as well as professional couples
who are conservative in outlook are also comparatively likely to be interested in
8 Each year more than 5 billion pounds in benefits for older people goes unclaimed. (Help the Aged Fuel Poverty
Statement [above])
10 Fuel Poverty primarily affects pensioner households and households with children. These two groups account for
around 71% of all fuel poor households. .Colder homes, a result of fuel poverty, increase the risk of respiratory and
cardiac illness including asthma and stroke, of accidents, and of social exclusion, as people who are living in cold
homes are less likely to invite friends in, or to go out themselves, knowing they must return to a cold home. It can
also lead to lower educational achievement since children often do not have a quiet, comfortable space in which to
work. (Help the Aged Fuel Poverty Statement [above])
improvements. Dartmoor Circle proposes a programme which identifies the
neighbourhoods where people within those groups live, and creates a campaign and
financial and support package, which suits the needs of each of them. This can then
be marketed in the way which is most appropriate to each sector. This approach is
likely to have a comparatively high yield in terms of carbon reduction, since people
in those sub groups are likely to already heat their homes to a comfortable
temperature and so are likely to use less fuel following the installation of insulation. 7
By contrast people in fuel poverty are likely to enjoy the warmer temperature, rather
than reducing their fuel purchase.
8.4 Objective and activities for Warmer Homes, Lower Bills across
By promoting the various solutions described above, Dartmoor Circle and its partners
can deliver warmer homes and lower bills to people across Dartmoor. The plan
proposes the following objective as a way of inspiring wide participation in doing so:
Warmer Home and Lower Bills Objective
To ensure everyone on and around Dartmoor lives in a warm home, with carbon
emissions from Dartmoor’s cavity walled houses reduced by 20% by 2013, and solid
walled houses by 20% by 2020.
This objective will be achieved through the following activities:
Homes Activity 8.1 – Carbon footprinting: To establish a robust and detailed baseline
emissions figure for Dartmoor and measure change over time.
Sub activities:
8.1.1 Conduct aerial mapping and map to GIS and database
8.1.2 Verify mapped database though house to house visits to every Dartmoor
household and secondary data from energy utilities and elsewhere
8.1.3 As part of household surveys and otherwise, segment households by
indicators showing which are most likely to take up energy efficiency
measures, and identifies those likely to be occupied by people in fuel
8.1.4 Establish a continuing capacity to measure changes in emissions over
Homes Activity 8.2 – Increasing energy efficiency of cavity walled homes
Sub activities:
8.2.1 All households – work with Energy Action Devon to publicise and
They would also be able to make informed use of smart metering, to increase their control over use of gas and
electricity for heating.
increase uptake of energy efficiency audits, and loft and cavity wall
insulation measures
Develop and implement specific programmes to address the reasons for
not adopting efficiency measures in respect of the different groups
identified in Activity 8.1.3.
Work with Energy Action Devon and other partners to develop and
implement a programme which helps everyone in fuel poverty to take up
Work with Energy Action Devon and other partners to develop and
implement an Older Ambassadors programme to encourage older people
to take up insulation, as well as any benefits they are entitled to, and
including providing a loft emptying and refilling service.
Develop a green energy bulk tariff in partnership with an energy utility,
with a simple option for people on dual electricity and gas tariff, and
publicise it across Dartmoor
Homes Activity 8.3 –Increasing the energy efficiency of solid walled homes
Sub activities:
8.3.1 Working with an existing community development finance
institution, put in place a loan fund, matched to grants wherever
possible, to allow occupiers of solid wall houses to spread the cost of
insulation over time, and to install renewables.
8.3.2 Working with Dartmoor National Park Authority, examine ways to
streamline approval of external insulation for properties on Dartmoor,
where this is appropriate.
8.3.3 Publicise a programme offering combined information, loft insulation
and renewable energy options to reduce emissions substantially
without wall insulation.
Homes Activity 8.4: New buildings: Work with Dartmoor National Park Authority
and other partners to ensure all new buildings developed on Dartmoor are low carbon
in build, and zero carbon in operation.
Activities under this objective will be developed with partners.