Eon subsidises half the cost of insulation at the DIY chains Wickes and Homebase as part of its efforts to meet its CERT obligations – a scheme which requires energy suppliers to improve the energy efficiency of their customers’ homes. British Gas has a similar agreement with B&Q, as does Scottish and Southern with Focus and EDF with Tesco.
These products are intended to be bought by domestic customers. However, loft insulation installers are buying them at the DIY superstores instead of the usual trade outlets, distributors and manufacturers have told the Association for the Conservation of Energy.
If these installers are buying discounted insulation, CERT carbon savings could be double counted. An energy company will be able to claim credit for the loft insulation being sold in superstores. Another energy supplier will then be able to claim credit once a trade customer installs it under the CERT scheme. Fewer lofts will actually be fitted with insulation than the CERT figures suggest.
Both Centrica and Eon said they were unaware of the problem when contacted by ENDS, but would investigate it. Under CERT rules, they have to do checks to ensure discounted energy efficiency products are not being sold to trade customers. Ofgem is also investigating.
In February, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is due to consult on changes to CERT. It is expected to propose increasing the attributable carbon savings for DIY loft insulation, as it wants to encourage further installations. However, this could make the problem of double counting worse if the issue is not addressed.