Consumer Behavior and Energy Policy: An International Perspective

By Eric Monnier; George Gaskell et al. | Go to book overview

regulated by local authorities.

Fuel boards: In parts of the United States and Australia, fuel boards are taking responsibility for retrofitting programs. Responsibility for domestic sector energy efficiency measures including house insulation could be taken over by the fuel industries in Britain if their legislative powers were changed from requiring them to generate and supply energy as efficiently as possible to ensuring that it was also used as efficiently as possible.

Local authorities: District Councils are already responsible for the home insulation program: they distribute attic insulation grants and until the end of earmarked funding were engaged in a considerable program of retrofitting in their own housing projects. Apart from being responsible for the housing stock that is some of the worst-insulated and contains some of the poorest tenants, local authorities also have the kind of skills and knowledge necessary to take on the private rented and owner-occupied sector. However, providing them with general powers to carry out this work is not likely to achieve very much impetus in the present climate of constrained local government finance. Earmarked funding would be required.

DHSS: Although the need for energy conservation work for low-income households extends beyond claimants of benefits, the DHSS is the only agency in touch with a large number of those in need. Could DHSS policy develop one stage further--become more interventionist--to ensure that claimants are enabled to make better use of their heating expenditure? Clearly such an extension of DHSS responsibilities would involve additional staff and expenditure and add an extra burden at a time when changes have been proposed in an attempt to diminish and simplify the system. However a change in policy involving additional expenditure now may well save substantial and wasted expenditure later.


CONCLUSION

It is the Government's intention to move the U.K. from the bottom of the European ranking on energy efficiency to the top by 1989. Despite progress with conservation in the domestic sector there is still room for a major investment program to cover uninsulated hot water tanks, attics, walls, and weatherproofing. This remaining potential is concentrated in lower-income households. Therefore the first priority must be to develop policies that reach out to these households. Some of the benefits of this investment will be taken in improved heating standards. However, there is growing evidence from the research discussed above and

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