From Greenhouse to Green House

The threats of climate change
CO2 emissions and savings


To its credit, the UK Government is already providing grants, tax breaks and other incentives for renewable energy, insulation and the like. With regard to the suggestions that follow, the Government has already taken action or is taking action in many cases.  But its initiatives are often complex and confusing from a consumer's perspective or they are not well publicised. So these suggested actions are actions that seem to be needed from a consumer's eye view.

  1. Designs for light fittings. It would be good if the Government would encourage the development of light fittings designed specifically for low-energy bulbs. Many light fittings in the shops will only take traditional bulbs.
  2. Photovoltaics. 50% grants are now available for the purchase of photovoltaics but an even larger subsidy may be needed to get the market going. There may be a case for encouraging the development of systems for storing energy from photovoltaics.
  3. CHP. A research initiative or a subsidy or both is needed to encourage the development of CHP units designed for domestic users.
  4. Super insulation. Here, 'super' insulation means insulation that is good enough to allow buildings to occupied comfortably in winter with little or no heating. Heat exchangers are likely to be needed to allow ventilation without loss of heat.

    Integrated systems of 'super' insulation are needed that can be applied to the roofs, walls, ground floors and windows of existing buildings. An R & D initiative is probably needed to develop these systems. It is likely that very large subsidies will be needed to encourage householders to install super insulation. And planning laws and regulations probably need to be modified to accommodate the visual effect of thick layers of external insulation on existing buildings.

    In general, there is a need for 'systems' that can be retrofitted in a flexible way to existing houses of many different designs. We believe the Government should take steps to ensure that systems of this kind are developed and made available for purchase by individual householders.

  5. Biofuels for domestic heating. Some kind of combination of subsidies and tax breaks is probably needed to make biofuels more attractive for domestic heating.
  6. Heat pumps. The market for heat pumps in the UK is still embryonic. Although some installations attract VAT at 5% (compared with the normal 17.5%), there is a need for the market to be given additional encouragement by tax incentives and/or grants.
  7. Solar panels and passive solar heating. Larger incentives are probably needed to encourage the development and adoption of systems for solar heating of water and passive solar heating of existing buildings.
  8. Traffic-free routes for cycling. We badly need safe, traffic-free routes for cycling both in towns and in the open countryside. This could be done with a small fraction of the money currently spent on roads.
  9. Diesel engines and SVO. It would be good if manufacturers would develop Diesel engines that can run on straight vegetable oil without the need for modifications. Government encouragement and incentives would be useful.
  10. Taxes on biofuels for transport. Taxes on bio-diesel, SVO and bio-ethanol need to be further reduced to develop these types of fuel. Any consequent loss of income to the Government can be offset by raising taxes on fossil road fuels.
  11. Electric cars, hybrids and fuel cells. The market for electric cars, hybrids and fuel cells needs more encouragement by tax breaks, tough emission standards or other means.