Scottish householders to get new help with insulation funding
There is no doubt that having good insulation can help cut energy bills, helping to reduce fuel poverty, while the fact this also means less fuel is burned and less warm air escapes from homes also ensures that emissions are reduced.
As a result, the fitting of insulation and other energy-efficiency measures has been a high priority for many politicians, as this helps tackle two major issues at once. The only real question has been what the best way of going about it is. As the UK government found in its Green Deal scheme, not all schemes are effective or liable to get much buy-in from householders.
Some programmes can be confusing or too complex, while others can be poorly advertised or fail to aim the right kind of help at the right people.
The latest attempt to get the right kind of scheme in place has taken place in Scotland. The Home Energy Scotland Loan Scheme has been established through the merger of two existing schemes, the Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland Loans Scheme and the Home Energy Scotland Renewable Loan Scheme.
Under the new scheme, householders can get loans of up to £32,500 for a range of measures, including cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation, new boilers and double glazing. Cashback of up to 25 per cent is also available for a short time.
Business, innovation and energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "The Home Energy Scotland Loan Scheme presents property owners with an ideal opportunity to install a variety of energy efficient measures and renewable technologies to make it easier and cheaper to keep their homes warm.
"Combining previous loan schemes makes it easier for consumers to make all energy-related changes to their properties at the one time. It also cuts red tape and expands the pot of funding available."
The need for more and better insulation in Scottish homes is more acute than anywhere else in the UK. Partly, this is due to the more northerly latitude and consequent colder and darker winters, but there is also clear evidence that fuel poverty is worse in Scotland's major towns and cities than elsewhere. A survey by Moneysupermarket.com published last December revealed that the five worst cities for fuel poverty were all in Scotland. Dundee fared worst, with 28 per cent of households having to pay ten per cent or more of their income on heating, followed by Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Falkirk. The last of these had a 22 per cent rate of fuel poverty, fully seven per cent higher than Manchester, sixth on the list and the highest non-Scottish city.
The issue of tackling climate change is just as much of a priority, although emissions reductions from building is, of course, only part of the picture when it comes to finding ways of improving energy efficiency and lowering carbon footprints.
In seeking to legislate for future carbon reduction, the Scottish government has consulted the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). In March, the CCC advised that there were two ways Scotland could seek to achieve its goals. One was an overall reduction of 90 per cent on emissions levels compared to 1990 levels by 2030, something the CCC described as being "at the limit of current CCC emissions reduction pathways for Scotland and would require very strong progress in every sector". The alternative was an 80 per cent reduction, with a focus on making the bulk of this reduction sooner rather than later by achieving a 66 per cent cut by 2030.