According to the BBC (Today, Radio 4), the Energy Company Obligation will remain in place very much as it is now. This will allay fears that have arisen in recent weeks that the scheme would be severely cut back or scrapped altogether.
This is good news for consumers as it means that the threat to cut back on energy efficiency improvements is removed. Insulation and heating improvements will be available for some years to come and will be free to some people. However, the obligation on energy companies to make these improvements is likely to be phased over four years rather than two. This means that the annual cost is effectively halved, but of course it also means that the number of improvements that can be made each year is also halved.
Other changes to ECO may also be forthcoming, as Lib Dems and Tories will be spending three or four days discussing potential amendments ahead of the Chancellor’s Statement next Thursday. It would appear that these ideas include a marriage between ECO and Green Deal, which could have some interesting consequences!
Tens of thousands of people working in the energy efficiency industry will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief at this news, if indeed it is confirmed in the Chancellor’s Statement. So will many more people who stand to benefit from the warmer homes and reduced energy bills that will result.
Extending the obligation by two years is, in a sense, the easy way out for the Government. Other options to simplify and reduce the cost of ECO would obviously have taken time and brain power, so this could be seen as a missed opportunity.
Warm Homes Discount
It would also seem likely that the Warm Homes Discount, currently funded by energy companies (and therefore all of us as customers) will in future be funded by taxation. This is generally considered to be a step in the right direction, although many have argued that the Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation part of ECO should also be funded by taxation, as it was for many years previously under the guide of ‘Warm Front’.
Consumers: apply now for energy efficiency improvements this is good news for our customers and partners; my advice to anyone out there who thinks they might want insulation or heating improvements is to apply now – you can apply online and we will get in touch with you to make an appointment for a home visit.