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The ‘comfort take’ and other benefits of better insulated homes

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  • The ‘comfort take’ and other benefits of better insulated homes

Calculating energy savings from insulating a home looks simple — making a house twice as efficient will cut fuel bills by half. But it is not that easy and a new report for the Energy Bill Revolution organisation has introduced me to the concept of the “comfort take”.

This reflects the fact many people, especially those who have been turning thermostats down to save money will heat their homes to a warmer temperature.

So Cambridge Econometrics who have produced the report, Building the Future: The economic and fiscal impacts of making homes energy efficient (pdf) use the “comfort take” to calculate savings. When looking at the energy bill savings from investment in insulating the average low income home they see a saving of £408. But after accounting for the “comfort take” the figure comes down to £245.

In a footnote they explain:

Homes with fuel poor residents often tend to be under-heated due to the high costs associated with heating. This means that modelling of energy demand and energy savings can be over-estimates, as they do not account for the behaviour and energy use patterns of the residents. It can be that, after energy efficiency measures have been installed, the residents increase the warmth of their homes (due to the reduced costs of achieving the warmer temperature), rather than achieving the predicted energy bill savings associated with energy efficiency. This is known as ‘comfort take’ – and assumed to account for a 40% reduction in the predicted energy bill savings for the purpose of this research.

The warmer home may result in further savings. The report estimates that for every £1 spent on reducing fuel poverty, a return of 42 pence is expected in National Health Service (NHS) savings (there is a footnote to explain this figure).

Overall the report concludes:

  • A far more ambitious home energy efficiency investment programme would increase UK GDP by£13.9 billion a year by 2030 
  • Radical programme would create up to 108,000 new UK jobs  
  • It would deliver £4.95 billion in financial savings per year for UK households by 2030
  • Gas imports would be cut by 25%, boosting energy security
  • £1.27 in tax revenue would be returned for every £1 invested by Government

Energy Bill Revolution is supported by a wide range of charities, industry and local authorities.

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