£15m home energy efficiency advice boost

TENS of thousands of households are to be offered advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, under a £15 million scheme announced yesterday.

Experts will knock on all doors in each of ten chosen areas of Scotland, to offer to carry out an audit of how efficiently energy is being used, and means tested free or discounted insulation will be offered.

The Scottish Government funded scheme will benefit up to 96,000 homes initially, and could then be rolled out to other areas over the next few years.

Green groups warned yesterday the initiative did not go far enough.

Houses are responsible for about a third of all carbon dioxide emissions in Scotland, making them crucial in the struggle to meet climate change targets of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

Areas due to benefit include the whole of Stirling, 14,000 homes in Brechin and Montrose, Angus, 13,515 homes in King's Park, Croftfoot, Simshill and Cardonald, Glasgow, 13,000 homes in Craigentinny and Duddingston, Edinburgh, 10,000 in Leven, Kennoway and Largo, Fife, 8,823 in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, 1,500 in West Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, 9,034 in Thurso and Fort William, Highland, 8,506 in Lewis and Harris, Western Isles, and 388 in Kirkwall and Stomness in Orkney.

It is thought 900 energy advisor and insulation installer jobs could be created.

The Energy Saving Trust, a not-for-profit organisation, will manage the delivery of the scheme.

Doorstep assessors will knock on every door in the selected areas to provide energy advice to the householder, gather energy data on the property and seek to sign the householder up for insulation measures, where their home is suitable.

Alex Neil, housing and communities minister, said: "Making Scotland's homes better insulated will be key to achieving our ambitious climate change targets.

"By offering householders help with making their homes more energy efficient, people will have the opportunity to do their bit for the environment.

"Importantly it will help make homes warmer, reduce fuel bills, safeguard existing jobs and create new employment opportunities."

However, the Scottish Green party said the scheme would cover just 4.2 per cent of Scotland's homes – and would take nearly 24 years to roll out over the entire country. They want 100 million a year spent on energy efficiency of homes.

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP, said: "While we're pleased to have pushed the Scottish Government a little closer to adopting a decent energy saving scheme, this announcement is a poor substitute for the free and universal project we pressed for. "At this rate some parts of Scotland wouldn't see an insulation van until 2033, even assuming there was a proper commitment in future to finish the job."

He added:

"If the SNP were serious about climate change and fuel poverty, they'd be rolling out a national free insulation scheme, not a half measure."

Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland said the Scottish Government needed to move quickly to "massively expand the scheme to cover every home in Scotland."


HOUSE prices are now higher than at the beginning of the year after rising for the third month in a row during July.

The average value of a UK home rose by 1.3 per cent during the month to stand at 158,871, according to Nationwide.

The building society said yesterday prices were 1.3 per cent higher over the seven months of 2009 and could even finish slightly higher for the year as a whole.

"Only a few months ago such an outcome would have appeared unthinkable," Nationwide's chief economist Martin Gahbauer said.

Average prices are now 6.2 per cent lower than a year ago – a big improvement on the 9.3 per cent year-on-year decline registered in June.

The data follows Bank of England figures on Wednesday showing the number of mortgages approved for house purchase rising for the fifth month in a row during June to the highest level for more than a year.

According to Nationwide's figures, February represented the lowest point of the market with prices registering a 17.6 per cent annual decline.

The building society said house prices had been "remarkably resilient" so far this year despite recession and rising unemployment.

This could be because the sharp fall in transactions last year meant some people who were ready to buy did not want to do so at the height of the crisis, Mr Gahbauer added.

But he also warned that the run for the property market, with prices up in four of the past five months, may not be sustained, as prices would become out of kilter with average earnings.

Cavity wall insulation

Cost: 250 Saving: 115 a year Payback period: About 2 years

Loft insulation

Cost: 250

Saving: 150 a year

Payback period: Less than 2 years

Draught proofing

Cost: 200

Saving: 25 a year

Payback period: 8 years

How much a three-bed semi-detached house with gas heating could save by taking these ten energy saving steps:

Floor insulation

Cost: 100

Saving: 50 a year

Payback period: 2 years

Tanks and pipe insulation

Cost: 22

Saving: 45 a year:

Payback period: Less than 6 months

Turn down thermostat by 1C

Cost: 0

Saving: 50

Payback period: Immediate

Turn off appliances and avoid leaving them on stand-by

Cost: 0

Saving: 30

Payback period: Immediate

Wash laundry at 30C

Cost: 0

Saving: 10

Payback period: Immediate

Only boil as much water as you need

Cost: 0

Saving: 10

Payback period: Immediate

Turn off lights on leaving room

Cost: 0

Saving: 10

Payback period: Immediate

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