Monday, October 23, 2006

Changing UK Residents' Behaviour

Hello There,

Ive read a report produced by Friends Of The Earth stating that in the UK carbon emissions have increased - up by 2% on this time last year.

Carbon emissions are on the rise and are at their highest since 1997 - despite the Government funding and utility funding. Ian Pearson MP (Environment Minister) appeared live on Channel 4 news at lunchtime this Monday saying that the UK are going to potentially achieve double the Kyoto target set, although the 2010 deadline for a 20% reduction in emissions will probably only see us achieving 16%? But he failed to say what action was being taken to address this failure.

I agree with Krishnan Gurumurthy who commented during the interview that its always the same soundbites that are used with every interview on the subject e.g. people should not keep appliances on standy-by, mobile phone charges should be switched off. However these messages don't appear to be having any effect whatsoever to the general consumer.

Ian Pearson tried to rally by saying the EST were doing more to raise awareness and that the Government were funding EEC (and we thought it was the energy suppliers doing that ??!) and there will be an additional £1 billion of funding pledged by the Government to energy efficiency - but he didnt say specifically when and one can only assume that he was referring to EEC3 unless the Warm Front/Warm Deal/HEES grants are going to get huge boosts?

But if peoples' behaviour and attitude doesnt change then this is hardly going to achieve the significant reductions we all need to make.

Interestingly, the weather forecast on the show is sponsored by Worcester Bosch - showing their Greenstar boiler range with the caption "Not everyone has energy to waste".

The Government needs to legislate. WE need to encourage legislation as part of their EEC3 consultation that means taxing wasteful commercial users, but how do we legislate for householders? How do you prove who uses what? What would be the benchmark - average usage per property type and number of occupants (NHER Rating?). Or would you mandate a minimum SAP level in the private sector - how do you make people respond in a positive manner to something that isnt a tangible instant hit for them in terms of savings to their household income?

Even generating interest in insulation or heating measures when they are free is difficult in the private sector - just ask any HECA Officer or programme manager?

I hope that the more press coverage this issue gets, the more awareness will be generated and we actually manage to prick the social conscience about this sooner rather than later.

Social housing is relatively easy to resolve - providing there is sufficient funding and good management. However its the private sector that needs the same attention and support if we are to succeed.

Incentives are needed and the confidence of the public to ensure that the good contractors are top of the list - and similarly that the "cowboys" are very firmly at the bottom! I have seen some leaflets lately that frankly beggar belief. I have also seen some technical monitoring results and complaints from customers of a local contractor that are shameful. However they are not being brought to account and continue to trade - they have also been claiming the energy savings from work completed via Council funded insulation schemes and pocketing the energy supplier funding that should be going back into the Council budget - Outrageous!

Its contractors like this and others who similarly carry out poor standards of work who render a huge blemish on the industry and its no wonder that consumers are suspicious - it only takes a few rotten apples to spoil the whole barrel. Its often referred to as the (polite version here) rear end of the construction industry but you can change attitudes in some organisations and I know I have done during the past three years.

Couple this with apathy towards the issue and you begin to understand what an uphill struggle we face - but we cannot and must not give up. I have seen how simple insulation measures and heating measures can literally change peoples' lives for the better and its about relating that benefit to the financial improvements too.

Just ask Mr & Mrs Simpson of Green Lane, Heywood - a couple who are in their dotage (in their mid 80's) and unfortunately Mr Simpson suffers from a heart condition. They received insulation measures to their mid terraced home in 2004 and Im still in contact with them today - I only got to know them because the loft insulation needed relaying as the original job was poor quality. We sorted out the job and also fitted a hot water tank jacket and cavity wall insulation.

The measures have really helped to make their home warmer and Mrs Simpson says she saw an improvement to her husband's health during the first winter and they were able to use more than the living room of the house during the winter for the first time in years. Its strange how some people come into your life but Im glad they did - they are lovely people and I was really happy to be able to help them and befriend them as a result.

They are some of the best advocates of insulation to their friends and neighbours on their weekly shopping trip to their local Morrisons in Heywood!!

Its cases like the Simpsons that make it all worthwhile - and I look forward to repeating that success thousands of times over in the future.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

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