As we seek to rebuild our economy after the pandemic, we must find ways to ensure our nation is more prepared for future shocks. A green recovery is not just economically sensible and a quick way to create new jobs following the lockdown, it also makes environmental threats to our economy, like climate change, less likely to happen. Now more than ever, we must not lose sight of our ambitions to level up the whole country, or our commitment to bring the UK’s contribution to climate change to an end by 2050.
One green measure that could really help the economic recovery in North Devon is an energy efficiency scheme. A nationwide programme to upgrade our homes and public buildings with insulation and modern, clean energy sources could create lasting, high-skilled jobs, whilst also slashing household bills, saving vulnerable lives in winter, and reducing our carbon footprint.
Many more of us are working from home now, and when we go back into winter, we will start noticing our more expensive heating bills as a result. Better insulated homes waste less energy. That means lower bills and lower emissions from wasted heat.
Especially if you are struggling to pay your energy bills, it is important that all of that energy goes towards keeping you warm, and that you are not paying for it to just leak out of your home. Research from the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group (EEIG) shows that there are currently 5,100 households in North Devon which suffer from fuel poverty and 31,800 with an EPC rating lower than C. These should be our first priority for any energy efficiency scheme. Through a mixture of government incentives, low-cost loans, and tax breaks, homes can be upgraded to leak less heat in a way that is affordable for the bill payer.
Getting all homes up to a good energy efficiency level would save the average household £270 per year on energy bills and increase their property value. The net value added would amount to £5.7 million per year across North Devon once all homes are improved. It would also help many local construction businesses, which are struggling at the moment due to the lockdown. This would support an estimated 240 jobs, which would spread the benefits even further.
Making energy efficiency a key part of the economic recovery is a win-win which would quickly secure jobs in our community whilst reducing our carbon emissions. That is why as part of its recovery package I am urging the Government to invest in an energy efficiency programme that will bring huge benefits to North Devon.