The government has recently created a number of schemes in order to improve the energy efficiency of properties and lower utility bills for tenants across the country. This is mainly due to the fact that many people are now suffering from what is known as ‘fuel poverty’, meaning that they struggle to pay to keep their houses warm and often have to choose between heating and food during the winter months. Now, the government has revealed that they have earmarked six billion pounds for social housing projects that want to invest in new renewable heat projects that will not only help their tenants but also benefit the environment.
The Renewable Heat Premium Programme allows social landlords to apply to the Energy Saving Trust for money to pay for renewable heating projects including solar panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps. Discussing the scheme, climate change minister Greg Barker said: “This new investment in renewable heat projects will enable social landlords across the UK to get innovative renewable heating kit into the homes of their social tenants. This will help save money on energy bills and provide low-carbon alternatives to traditional heating systems.
“More than 100 social landlords are already taking advantage of more than £13million under our renewable heat competitions. I would encourage more social landlords to rise to the challenge and get involved.” However, there has been some criticism of the plans mainly due to the fact that the government is promoting the use of biomass, which depends on burning timber in order to work. Groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have claimed that increased dependency on biomass will lead to the price of timber increasing rapidly, which could ultimately lead to those working in the paper and timber industries losing their jobs.
In a letter to The Times, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace said: “We have jointly written to government to warn that the reckless pursuit of generating electricity from wood threatens to backfire, both in terms of the environment and the economy.” However, the government have claimed that they will only use timber from sustainably managed forests and will monitor the effects on the market.
The government has also introduced schemes to help private landlords improve their properties, such as the Green Deal which allows landlords to have work carried out for free in order to improve the energy efficiency rating of their properties. They have also stated that by 2018 any property that has an F or G rating will be deemed unsuitable for let, and therefore will be refused for landlord insurance and could lead to the landlord having to pay for the improvements themselves.