A £500 council tax rebate should be introduced for householders who install energy efficiency measures into their homes, Citizens Advice Scotland is to tell the Scottish Government.
The payment would be made to home owners who introduced measures such as insulation or double glazing to their properties in a bid to increase energy efficiency – within a year after the upgrades took place – according to the report, which is due to be published tomorrow.
The study into Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (Seep) by the watchdog’s Consumer Futures Unit, also said that measures to encourage homeowners to upgrade energy efficiency needed to be brought in quickly – or risk householders who could currently afford such measures reaching retirement age, when they will potentially be classed as being in fuel poverty – and would require a subsidy from government.
The report, which will be presented to the Scottish Government and all of Scotland’s political parties, said: “Of the tax incentive scenarios presented to participants in our research, there was one which emerged – and by some margin – as being preferred by, and most likely to be encouraging to, homeowners. This was the idea of a one-off rebate in council tax in the year following the installation by the homeowner of energy-saving measures.”
The study found that “basic measures” would improve energy efficiency were identified as at least part of the solution in many cases, with loft insulation being the single most identified measure, suitable for some 40 per cent of homes. Draught-proofing, cavity wall insulation and upgraded heating systems were also common, while only a few needed much more expensive measures.
The report said: “Unless solutions are found to drive investment, homeowners who continue to put off doing anything will eventually reach pensionable age, and potential classification at that stage as vulnerable and/or fuel-poor, therefore potentially requiring a significantly larger subsidy.”
Kate Morrison, energy team manager of the Consumer Futures Unit at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “If the ultimate objective of Seep is to upgrade all homes to a Band C energy rating, around one million owner-occupiers will need to upgrade their homes. The government needs to persuade people of the benefits of installing energy efficiency measures, and design a scheme that makes it easy for them to take action, and incentivises them to do so.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We have already introduced measures requiring each local authority to offer those making their homes more energy efficient a council tax reduction through the Climate Change Act 2009.
“It is the responsibility of each local authority to establish, deliver and promote their own scheme.”