Extended CERT scheme focuses on insulation

The government will require energy suppliers to increase the amount of insulation they install in customers’ homes under the carbon emissions reduction target (CERT). But in reality, little increased effort will be required.

Most carbon savings delivered by energy suppliers under the carbon emissions reduction target (CERT) will in future have to come from installing insulation, the energy and climate change department (DECC) has confirmed.

CERT began in April 2008 and requires energy firms to deliver 185 million tonnes of lifetime carbon dioxide savings in their customers’ homes by April 2011. They achieve this with measures such as loft insulation, discounting insulation materials at DIY stores and giving free energy-efficient light bulbs to customers. The scheme is financed by small increases in electricity bills.

Last year DECC consulted on plans to extend the scheme so that it delivered 293 million tonnes of CO2 savings by December 2012 (ENDS Report 420, pp 44-45). However, the then Labour government never confirmed the extension, leading to fears of job losses among insulation firms (ENDS Report 423, p 17).

In June DECC finally issued a response to the consultation confirming the extension will go ahead.1 It says this will allow the coalition time to finalise details of its ‘green deal’ scheme that will give home owners loans to install energy efficiency measures paid back through savings in energy bills (ENDS Report 423, pp 36-40).

DECC’s response confirms that 68% of the additional requirement, some 73.4MtCO2, will have to be met with professionally installed home insulation measures. This translates to about 2.1 million homes getting loft insulation, 1.4 million getting cavity wall insulation, and over 100,000 getting solid wall insulation.

This is an increase on the 65% requirement proposed by the last government, but will still only require a small increase in effort by energy companies. Some 62% of savings already delivered under CERT have come from insulation, according to Ofgem’s latest quarterly report on the scheme.2

DECC expects another 12% of the extended target to be met from sales of discounted loft insulation at DIY stores. This practice was criticised last year because professional installers were buying the insulation (ENDS Report 408, p 12).

DECC confirms other changes to CERT in its response. Suppliers will no longer be able to claim CO2 savings by offering discounted energy-efficient light bulbs at supermarkets and DIY stores. Energy suppliers opposed this change, but DECC says consumers are likely to buy the bulbs even without the discount.

Suppliers must also meet 15% of their target by improving the homes of those at highest risk of fuel poverty, such as people receiving cold weather payments. Suppliers will only be able to claim savings from installing microrenewables for customers in this group. This is because feed-in tariffs for microrenewables came into force in April so most householders now have an incentive to install the technology (ENDS Report 421, pp 45-46).

DECC has also announced it will issue a consultation on further changes to the scheme in the summer.

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