Under the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT), energy companies already have to invest £2.8 billion in energy efficiency measures such as home insulation over three years to 2011. The government will now legislate to require them to increase this investment. Electricity generating companies such as Drax will be included for the first time.
Around £560 million will go towards expanding CERT, while the remaining £350 million will go towards a new Community Energy Saving Programme. This will see local authorities, voluntary organisations and energy companies carry out house-to-house calls to offer help in some of the most deprived areas of the UK. This could result in as many as 100 schemes, the government estimates.
A nationwide advertising campaign will be launched, with advertisements in newspapers and television.
The government has also announced £74 million over the next two years for its Warm Front scheme, which offers up to £2,700 worth of central heating and energy efficiency measures to low income households and pensioners.
The government has come under fire for failing to eradicate fuel poverty, as promised in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000. Jenny Holland, parliamentary coordinator at the Association for the Conservation of Energy, said that the announcement was a step in the right direction but was not enough to bring about a radical change in energy efficiency or eradicate fuel poverty.