The Government's ambition goes beyond existing plans. We aim to provide cavity wall and loft insulation for all suitable properties by 2015. Whole house energy makeovers will be needed, and the aim is for 400,000 households a year to have this by 2015, with seven million homes benefiting by 2020, and be on the way to all homes having access to whole house improvements by 2030.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said:
'We need to move from incremental steps forward on household energy efficiency to a comprehensive national plan - the Great British refurb.
'We know the scale of the challenge: wasted energy is costing families on average £300 a year, and more than a quarter of all our emissions are from our homes.
'Energy efficiency and low-carbon energy are the fairest routes to curbing emissions, saving money for families, improving our energy security and insulating us from volatile fossil fuel prices.
'We cannot afford not to act. Every home must be able to access the help and technology it needs, whether it be the installation of a ground or air source heat pump, solar-heating, solid wall insulation, or access to a district heating scheme.
Most importantly, I want to ensure that help to meet the costs is available to people house by house, street by street, and that lower-income families don't miss out.'
Key proposals include:
* Finance packages to install energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heat and power sources would be offered to householders. Repayment from part of the savings on energy bills would be linked to the property, rather than residents.
* Combined with guaranteed cash payments by way of a Renewable Heat Incentive and a Feed-in Tariff for small scale electricity generation, the payback for homeowners who switch to low-carbon technologies and save energy would start from day one.
* Options for improving the delivery of energy efficiency advice and measures, including establishing a central coordinating body funded by energy companies and working to Government-set targets.
* Rolling out low-cost home energy audits, developing a qualification for energy advisers, and establishing an accreditation scheme for installers.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said:
'Alongside global and national drives to tackle climate change and address fuel poverty we must remember the importance of collective action. All across the country there are examples of communities working together to become greener - buying local produce, sharing and comparing how they use energy, and of whole streets working together to cut carbon emissions. By encouraging this shared sense of responsibility and collective action we can tap into the ideas, innovation, and energy of groups of people across the country, helping foster greater neighbourliness, lower bills and less carbon dioxide emissions.
'The Community Energy Saving Programme will help thousands of households save energy and save money. Alongside this we want to address the barriers that might be stopping people getting involved, shine a light on the great work already underway and support local people and their councils to take the steps needed to make the most of new technology on offer. '
Housing Minister Margaret Beckett said:
'We don't only need more housing, we need better quality housing as well. These proposals can ensure that a more sustainable lifestyle is available to everyone, not just a luxury for those with the money to invest in the latest green gadgets.
'Social housing must be at the forefront of these changes. People living in social housing stand to gain the most from these proposals, as they are among the most likely to be living in fuel poverty. Some of the greenest homes in the country have been built by housing associations, and I believe that through this programme we can go even further.'
The Heat and Energy Saving Strategy will be open for consultation for 12 weeks. As part of the process, the Government will be hosting a series of public engagement events in England, Wales and Ireland, involving householders and SMEs. The first event will take place this Saturday in Harrow, London. A final strategy is due to be published later this year.
Two other consultation documents were also published today. The Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) consultation proposes a 20 per cent increase in the current energy efficiency scheme, expanding the help available to customers and offering real time displays and energy efficiency advice. This scheme currently means energy companies offer subsidised energy-efficiency measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation, high efficiency appliances, and low-energy light bulbs for consumers. The increase would mean more money available to extend the number and variety of measures. The HES consultation also proposes extending CERT to 2012.
A new Community Energy Savings Programme (CESP) will run in parallel with CERT. It will provide whole-house help around 90,000 homes in low-income areas, backed by an expected £350 million in funding from energy suppliers and generators.