Report sets out council’s energy ambitions

An ambitious plan to free people from the trap of fuel poverty and make homes more energy efficient is to be discussed by senior councillors next week.

The government requires the council to publish its plans to cut harmful carbon emissions and lift people out of fuel poverty, known as the ‘Home Energy Conservation Act Further Report’.

The draft report – which executive board members are being asked to approve on 13 March – outlines what the council plans to do to achieve this up until 2023.

The draft report covers three broad areas; improving the energy efficiency of Leeds’ homes to reduce the amount of energy they need to use; to support vulnerable people who can’t afford to heat their homes; and reducing the cost of energy.

With the council’s considerable experience in helping people keep warm and healthy at home while paying less on their fuel bills, members of the executive board will hear about projects that will build on these successes over the next 10 years.

In the short term, the council’s efforts will be focussed on establishing a Green Deal offer in Leeds and making energy efficient improvements to the types of homes that have proved too difficult or expensive to tackle up until now.

The Green Deal lets people to make energy efficient improvements to their home without any up-front costs. Instead, people can take out a loan with a Green Deal provider to fund the works with the debt paid off through the savings on energy bills.

Work on the Green Deal is already underway in the city. The Wrap Up Leeds+ project and Green Deal demonstrator project is testing how various aspects of this new funding mechanism for homeowners will work.

Until a new Leeds City Region-wide Green Deal scheme comes into effect in 2014, executive board members are also being asked to approve the award of contracts to a tender currently underway that will allow the council to deliver other Green Deal projects, including: installing external wall insulation on properties of all tenure types; installing external wall insulation on properties of a non-traditional build; and trialing the installation of external wall insulation on whole streets of Victorian terraces.

The draft report also highlights the important work the council does with a range of partners to support vulnerable people. People who are the least able to tackle rising fuel bills suffer the most from the effects of fuel poverty. So the council will continue this vital work to ensure that people can remain warm and healthy at home while paying less for their fuel bills and easing pressure on health services.

The council is also encouraging residents to contact Community Energy Direct to sign up to a collective energy buying scheme. Once signed up, Community Energy Direct and Which? will negotiate an energy price on behalf of residents who can then decide if they want to switch to the new provider. Residents could save £115 on their energy bills.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“When you look at the figures and history of our experience in tackling fuel poverty and cutting emissions, there is a really compelling story to tell.

“Behind these figures are real people who have seen a significant difference made to their health and in their lives by having their home made more energy efficiency or offered advice to reduce their bills and ultimately their emissions.

“The next few years will be critical for us in ensuring the momentum of these successes is maintained. We’ve already tackled what is easy to do – like cavity wall and loft insulation – so quite rightly our attention must be focussed on those homes that are harder and more expensive to treat to ensure benefits are felt by all.

“The report demonstrates that we have a good track record in delivering projects that not only release people from the fuel poverty trap and cut their emissions but have great potential to drive our economy and create sustainable jobs.”

As well as the projects the council is delivering now and plans to deliver over the next 10 years, the report explains the council’s track record in making homes more energy efficient.

Investment in its own housing stock means council homes are now on average the most efficient homes in Leeds. 31,464 council homes have been made more energy efficient with loft and cavity wall insulation, double-glazing and efficient doors. A further 4,300 council homes and 800 properties of mixed tenure, all non-traditional build, have had external wall insulation installed to ensure they don’t leak heat.

Most recently the council has installed loft and cavity wall insulation in 10,000 properties through the Wrap Up Leeds scheme saving people £1.4 million a year on their heating bills and cutting emissions by 5,600 tonnes too.

In the past 13 years the council has helped over 29,000 low-income households at risk of fuel poverty through various referral schemes and working with the NHS.

If approved, the ‘Home Energy Conservation Act Further Report’ will be published on the council’s website.

Notes to editors

People can sign up to the Community Energy Direct scheme at www.communityinfo.org or by calling 08454 502 581.

For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577

email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk