OK, fair enough, but why are you doing it this way then?

The answer should be a no-brainer – insulate. And there have been a series of, admittedly inadequate, programmes to help the poor to do so, culminating in the current Energy Company Obligation (ECO), under which suppliers are required to carry out efficiency measures. It is this that Mr Osborne is intent on cutting, by spreading its two-year programme over four. If he does so, spending on energy efficiency in England will have dropped by 62 per cent since the Coalition took office.

More than 140 organisations – ranging from Barnardo’s to confused.com, from AgeUK to the TUC – have written to him in ECO’s defence. Insulating houses saves families an average £400 a year. It is job-intensive, now employing some 136,000 people. It provides one of the highest returns on investment; £350 million spent under ECO will save a total of £4.2 billion. And it helps avoid energy shortages. No wonder David Cameron this year hailed it as “right for the economy”, pledging “to make Britain the most energy efficient country in Europe”.

I’m not entirely sure that it’s quite as simple as that given that there are many houses that it’s not possible to insulate (like all those Georgian houses in Bath). But let’s take it as being true.

Who could possibly be against it? Most energy companies, because it depresses their sales.

So which fucking cretin organised that it would have to be the energy companies that ran the insulation schemes then?

And then look at the trickery with numbers:

Now the Chancellor looks like capitulating. If he cuts the programme as expected, calculates the Association for the Conservation of Energy, the Big Six will avoid spending £1.3 billion on ECO measures, and sell £360 million worth of extra fuel to the uninsulated houses. Six hundred thousand families will pay hundreds of pounds extra annually, and at least 10,000 jobs will be lost. All for some £50 off the average bill of nearly £1,300.

Quote the costs as gross numbers, the benefits as per household. With 24 million households £50 each is £1.2 billion isn’t it?

16 comments on “OK, fair enough, but why are you doing it this way then?

  1. Ah Lean! The Geoffrey Lean Prizewinning Competition is to identify which pressure groups’ press releases he’s cut & pasting from, this week. Bonus points are earned if two topics in the same article are mutually contradictory.
    Her really belongs on the same page as Sudoko & the crossword.

  2. “and at least 10,000 jobs will be lost”

    Who out there needs someone else to do loft insulation for them? I’ve done it, it took a couple of hours. Nasty stuff, but anyone who’s reasonably fit can do the job.

  3. I’ve done it, it took a couple of hours. Nasty stuff, but anyone who’s reasonably fit can do the job.

    Self evidently, people who are not “reasonably fit”. Who may also tend to be people living in poorer housing.

  4. Seeing as how “insulation!!!” has been banged on about for at least the last three decades it’d be surprising if the message hadn’t sunk in yet. You can usually spot the odd couple houses in a road haven’t loft insulated because they’re the ones without snow on the roofs. But you’re quite right. Most of the UKs urban housing stock dates from the C19th-early C20th or earlier. No cavity walls & the local conservation groups wouldn’t like the sash windows replaced with uPVC. (Coincidentally, I’ve just seen the quote to replace the box frames for a window in period design but double glazed. It’s more than 3 times the annual energy bill for the entire flat. Not exactly a financial incentive.)
    But the most important driver of energy use is the one doesn’t get mentioned – lifestyle.
    Our grandparents knew how to live in those old houses. Thick lined curtains, bedrooms heated infrequently, warm clothes worn indoors. As fast as people have been insulating they’ve been wasting more energy. The thick curtains were replaced by thinner you can see the light through. Or never pulled at all. Bedrooms are now heated to higher levels than living rooms & are where family members spend much of their time, clothed as if for a beach in the tropics. I wouldn’t be surprised if one could make a case, increasing insulation increases energy use, in most households.

  5. SE,

    But those people couldn’t get around to it?

    Following on from BIS’ point, who is still around who hasn’t done this? Cavity wall costs quite a lot and has a longer return period, but loft insulation is a total no brainer. Pays for itself in a few years. Someone moving into these houses must have thought that sticking £100 of insulation in the roof was a good idea.

  6. Just a thought.
    Those Georgian houses in Bath, Tim mentions, were all built with internal window shutters. Which are as, if not more, effective than double glazing. I wonder how many still have them or use them if they do.
    It is mostly lifestyle.

  7. “… £350 million spent under ECO will save a total of £4.2 billion.”
    then
    “..the Big Six will avoid spending £1.3 billion on ECO measures..”

    Some discrepancy there,Shirley.

  8. looking at the figures, I’m trying to follow this…

    600,000 families? 10,000 jobs? So, we’re going to have 10,000 people to do 600,000 insulations? 60 each per installer per year?

    I know that cavity wall companies with a couple of guys can do two houses in a day (because that’s what us and our neighbours did), so what’s going on?

    And what measures are costing £1.3bn for 600,000 families? Or £2K/family? Cavity wall is around £500, loft insulation around £100.

  9. Just had a Victorian five-bedroomed terrace in Leeds insulated courtesy of British Gas. Took an assessor an hour to come to the conclusion that I qualified for free insulation and three days later it was fitted in under an hour by two fitters.

    BiS – Coincidentally, I’ve just seen the quote to replace the box frames for a window in period design but double glazed. It’s more than 3 times the annual energy bill for the entire flat. Not exactly a financial incentive.

    I had the the whole house done (PVC replica say windows) for nine grand, which is nearly seven times the annual energy bill for the entire house. However, I’m expecting to recoup some of it over the guaranteed lifetime of the windows (35 years).

    Tim – Following on from BIS’ point, who is still around who hasn’t done this?

    I bought the property from a Housing Association who, rather than fit insulation, had simply walled up the access to the entire second floor.

  10. BiS – Coincidentally, I’ve just seen the quote to replace the box frames for a window in period design but double glazed. It’s more than 3 times the annual energy bill for the entire flat

    I had a quote for double glazing my house. I then suggested to the rep that they might like to do the job for half the quote. This was accepted.

  11. Those Georgian houses in Bath, Tim mentions, were all built with internal window shutters. Which are as, if not more, effective than double glazing. I wonder how many still have them or use them if they do.

    We’ve got them on about half our windows. We use them on all where we have them. The rest were boxed in by idiots in the 19?0s.

    I wait to see, when we can have those windows redone, whether the shutters can be unboxed.

  12. @Witchsmeller Pursuivant, Wolfie
    Nice if you can get a fairly good match in uPVC. Not so clever with a compound window with intricate, curved glazing bars.

    @SE
    It’s not particularly hard to make replacement shutters. Certainly less than a good quality double-glazed window assembly. If you’re lucky with the sizes, you can improvise with a pair of cupboard doors, each cut down the middle. Architectural salvage yards usually have them.

    I always wonder why the roller shutters we have in France & on the apartment in Spain have never caught on UK side. Make the place much warmer in winter, cooler in summer & are excellent security. If you don’t mind losing a bit of window height, they’re not that hard to retro-fit & cheap if you source in France.

  13. Incidentally. if you want really over the top, the internal shutters i made for the sashes on my London flat were glazed with leaded panels inset with stained glass. It’s not that hard to learn, although cutting the glass takes a bit of practice before you get onto coloured at £40ft². Did look a wow!, though.

  14. @SE
    “The rest were boxed in by idiots in the 19?0s. “!
    There was a bloke called Barry Bucknall. BBC TV DIY guru from the 60s. Showed the viewer how to chop all the sticks out from bannisters & replace them with nice modern hardboard. I really would like to find where he’s buried, dig him up & hang the corpse in chains.

  15. What problems are going to arise through this drive to insulate the buggery out of everything? Foamed cavity wall insulation turned out to make a right pig’s ear out of proper airflow between the courses and was the behind many a case of damp striking through. I wonder if unintended consequences will follow this current mania for hermetically sealing everything.

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