A number of measures to help millions of homes and businesses save energy have cleared their first Commons hurdle.
The Energy Bill, which will set up the Green Deal scheme, has been hailed as the “most comprehensive energy-saving plan in the world” by energy secretary Chris Huhne. He made the bold claim as the plans were given an unopposed second reading.
As part of the proposals, homeowners and companies will be given funding to make energy efficiency improvements such as installing insulation, which will be paid back with the savings made on energy bills.
Mr Huhne also revealed plans for a minimum energy efficiency standard for rented properties, as he warned that too many tenants are being forced to endure “higher bills and colder homes”.
From April 2016 landlords will have to accept reasonable requests from tenants to enhance the property.
They will also be banned from renting out homes or businesses that have less than an “E” energy efficiency from April 2018, meaning 682,000 properties will have to be improved.
The move was welcomed by Friends of the Earth, with campaigner Dave Timms branding it a “bold and significant step forward which will protect many vulnerable families from fuel poverty and high energy bills in the future”.
Mr Huhne told MPs that under the Green Deal, energy-saving packages worth thousands of pounds would be installed in millions of homes and businesses across Britain.
He said household gas bills could be cut by as much as 44 per cent through energy efficiency measures.
“We estimate that between £2bn to £3bn-worth of energy is wasted every year because our homes are poorly insulated and inefficiently run,” he said.