Poll: Conservative membership backs wind and insulation drive ahead of winter bills crisis

Majority of Conservative Party members support home energy efficiency measures and faster rollout of renewable energy

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By George Smeeton


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New polling for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has found that the vast majority (85%) of Conservative Party members support incentives and investment for homeowners and landlords to improve home insulation and energy use. [1]

Many homes are reliant on gas boilers for heating and since the energy crisis began, the cost of gas alone will have added around £2,000 to the average energy bill.

Although the Green Homes Grant energy efficiency scheme was closed last year due to poor administration despite significant public demand, the government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme has been a success and will save fuel poor homes more than £600 on their energy bills in the coming year. [2]

A clear majority of members (85%) also support stronger environmental standards for new build homes. Improved standards were dropped in 2015, leading to over 1 million new homes being built to lower standards, therefore using more gas and paying higher bills [3]. The replacement Future Homes Standard was pushed back from 2023 to 2025 meaning around a further 600,000 new homes will now be built to lower standards during this period. [4]

The Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee said in its recent report on Energy Pricing, that “the absence of a home insulation programme is an unacceptable gap in policy that must be urgently rectified”. [5]

More than two-thirds (71%) of members also back a new generation of onshore and offshore wind energy with a similar proportion (73%) backing solar parks and panels.

Commenting, Chris Skidmore, Member of Parliament for Kingswood and chair of the Net Zero Support Group said: “The gas crisis is the reason energy bills are going up and it will be adding an extra £2,000 come October. It’s just common sense that we have to get off gas and firstly that means wasting less which in turn means properly insulating our homes. There are lots of leaky homes still out there and effective schemes like the Energy Company Obligation to help fix them up. The insulation industry is ready to step up. Politicians need to do their bit now.

“The £17bn package to help bill payers this year is much needed but as the IFS has pointed out, what do we do next year when gas will still be expensive? Insulation is the only practical way forwards and we need to get on with it. Gas is traded internationally so more North Sea gas won’t bring down bills and will take years to come online.”

In a recent Gemserv survey commissioned by the insulation industry [6], 81% said they had capacity to take on 25-50% more work. Four fifths (82%) said doubling ECO would be an effective way to deliver insulation to ‘able to pay’ homes.

In addition, 96% would expect job creation, with a fifth expecting jobs to be doubled. Just across the businesses surveyed, this means 5,300 jobs could be created.

Jess Ralston, Senior Analyst at ECIU, said: “Boosting energy efficiency as well as wind energy are popular with the public at large and the Conservative Party membership. Both are core parts of reaching net zero emissions, which we need to do to stop weather extremes getting worse. They will also bring down bills with wind and solar being by far the cheapest energy sources. New offshore wind farms are now four times cheaper than gas power stations.”

Industry analysts Cornwall Insights have predicted that the energy bill price cap is likely to rise to £3,234 from October 2022 and £3,363 from January 2023. [7]


Notes to editors:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 829 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd - 25th July 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of Conservative Party Members

ECO4 Impact Assessment predicts savings of £290 per year under the scheme. With the gas price doubled, savings are also expected to be doubled to £580. https://eciu.net/media/press-releases/2022/gas-set-to-have-added-2-000-to-bills-when-price-cap-rises-again-this-winter

Based on Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities indicators of new housing supply: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1022274/Housing_Supply_Indicators_Release_June_2021.pdf

Future Homes Standard: no time like 2023: https://eciu.net/insights/2020/future-homes-standard-no-time-like-2023

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5803/cmselect/cmbeis/236/summary.html

Gemserv: Proposed Energy Efficiency Scheme (ECO Plus) – Supply Chain Market Research Key Findings: https://gemserv.com/our-thoughts/proposed-energy-efficiency-scheme-eco-plus/

BBC News: Energy bills forecast to hit £3,363 a year: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62094435

For more information and media bookings:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153, Email: george.smeeton@eciu.net