Can you trust the energy savings calculated by the Energy Savings Trust?

10 February 2014

 Energy bills are still a hot topic at the moment, and increased awareness of some of the green levies previously included in our bills has also highlighted the energy savings end of the energy business.

Much of the Government’s Green Deal savings are based on calculations provided by the independent-yet-closely-aligned Energy Savings Trust (EST). However, it was recently suggested that the EST figures were unachievable for most households, meaning the energy savings would not stack up- particularly galling where energy companies were convincing people to invest large sums in insulation and new boilers. The most damning calculation suggested that savings from loft insulation have been around £15.50 a year, rather than the "up to £180" figure promoted by the EST.

As a result of the initial investigation, the EST said they would look again at their figures, and they have now published revised achievable energy savings. And some of them are even higher than they were before.

As expected, the loft insulation savings figures, for both internal and external wall insulation, have been cut from £460+ down to £270. These new figures are likely to have a considerable impact on the Green Deal figures, where the costs of installation are required to be more than exceeded by energy savings over the Green Deal period.

However, the EST has amazed some by increasing the calculated energy savings on boiler replacement. The new figures claim that replacing a band D gas boiler with an energy efficient A-rated model will now save £160 a year – up £55 from the previous £105 saving calculated. Band E boilers will also see an increase in savings from £155 up to £190. G rated boiler replacements are now shown with a lower saving, but only by £5, down to £305.

Chris Goodall, a keen environmentalist and author of How to Live a Low Carbon Life, told The Guardian that the EST's figures are still about twice the energy savings actually recorded over the past decade.

"It seems to be using figures which are at the top end of what is conceivably possible and aren't adjusting adequately for the indifferent quality of most cavity fills and the remaining problems of air leaks and 'bridges' that conduct heat through the external wall," he said, shaking his head sadly.

Other calculations compute that, in order to make the boiler savings outlined above, households would need to be spending £1,600 a year just on heating and hot water- virtually impossible for a typical three bedroomed house.

So what do you think? Are the energy saving cash benefits just a load of old insulation, or are the environmental benefits worth it regardless of the lack of monetary advantage?

TOPICS:   Utilities

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