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B&Q launches government-backed loft clearance/insulation pilot

Families are being offered an attic-clearing service as an incentive to insulate their lofts under a government-backed scheme to conserve energy.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said that many families felt it was too much “hassle” to install insulation, despite the potential to save hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills.

Under a pilot scheme operated by B&Q, the DIY chain, workers clear lofts while installing insulation, and take away any unwanted items to charity shops.

Early results suggested that the system had significantly increased the number of householders insulating their roofs.

Mr Clegg disclosed details during a speech at Canary Wharf, east London, in which he also suggested that power companies’ customers could be rated against their neighbours for how energy efficient their homes were.

But the Deputy Prime Minister left himself open to criticism from environmental campaigners after he was seen leaving in an official car, rather than taking public transport.

The Government estimates that some 40 per cent of homes in Britain – around 9 million - have lofts that are not properly insulated. About 195,000 lofts have no insulation at all.

Mr Clegg said that people were put off because of the “hassle factor”.

“Making home improvements can be temporarily disruptive,” he said.

“But there are ways to minimise that disruption and we are working with business to test innovative solutions.

“For example, we’ve been working with B&Q and Sutton council [in south London] to see if offering a loft clearance service makes a difference.

“B&Q clear your loft for you, you go through your belongings while they install the insulation, they put back the things you want to keep and everything else gets taken to Cancer Research shops to be sold for charity.

“The first trial found that people were three times more likely to go for this than straight insulation,” Mr Clegg said.

A separate trial, to begin this summer, could see householders rated against their neighbours for energy saving.

Each home could also be given a “smiley face” on its energy bills if it is found to be among the more efficient in the neighbourhood.

Mr Clegg said customers would be “told how much energy other, similar households use”. A similar programme in the United States has helped encourage households to reduce consumption by around 2 per cent, he said.

“That may not sound a lot, but it soon adds up. We want to see what the same approach could achieve here,” he added.

The Liberal Democrat leader criticised “naysayers” who claimed that efforts to encourage economic growth would jeopardise the environment.

He said it was “a myth” that environmentalism had “hit a wall”, and that “green is for the good times”.

But Mr Clegg’s green credentials could be compromised by the fact that he was seen leaving his speech in an official ministerial car. His office said that the Deputy Prime Minister had “no choice” over the car that police provided for him and declined to give any details of the specifications of the vehicle, including whether it ran on petrol or a more environmentally friendly fuel, on security grounds.

A spokesman for Mr Clegg said: “The Deputy Prime Minister was travelling to Windsor Castle for a Privy Council meeting with the Queen. His transport arrangements are an operational matter for the police.”

Source : Louise Gray & Tim Ross - The Telegraph

12 April 2012
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