According to figures released today, there is overwhelming public support for an increase in the amount of government money invested in improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes.
Over 69% of Scots support more public investment in energy efficiency and over 87% of Scots want to see an end to cold homes in Scotland within a decade
Commissioned by WWF Scotland, the group said the findings send a clear message to the Scottish Government that investment must be stepped up to ensure no-one is living in a cold, difficult to heat home.
Together with health, housing and anti-poverty organisations, the environmental group is calling for funding for energy efficiency to be increased to £190m with a total of £4.5bn of public funds being spent between now and 2025, through subsidised loans, grants for the fuel-poor and other schemes.
The Scottish Government’s draft budget, published earlier in December, proposed spending £114m on fuel poverty and home energy efficiency during the financial year 2017-18. While this figure is a small increase on the previous year, it is a cut in comparison to the £119m spent in 2015-16 and falls far short of what is necessary to begin the transition to a programme capable of eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland and meeting our climate change targets.
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said:
“It’s great to know that the majority of Scots support the idea of increased investment in improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s ageing housing. Improving energy efficiency will help lift people out of fuel poverty and improve their health, stimulate the economy, create jobs and cut our climate change emissions.
“The Scottish Government already has all the powers it needs to improve the quality of the homes we live in. We now need to see a commitment from the Scottish Government that it will put in place funding and policies to support all homes to reach the Energy Performance Certificate band C standard by 2025.
“Currently nearly 748,000 households in Scotland are living in fuel poverty. As we move into 2017 the results of our poll show the majority of Scots believe this isn’t good enough and want to see more being done to end the scourge of cold, damp homes.”
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe said:
“Far too many of our homes are still cold, damp, and unhealthy places to live in. Nursing staff see the health consequences of this every day in the thousands of people who live in unfit houses and pay a high price of avoidable and persistent illnesses or treatments they never should have required. It’s time to act – Scotland’s parties must work together to ensure that no-one gets sick or ill because of the house they live in.”
Graeme Brown, Director at Shelter Scotland, said:
“Cold homes impact on people’s health which can mean pressure on the NHS – for example children living in cold homes are twice as likely to have respiratory problems and 30 percent of excess deaths each winter can be attributed to cold housing. Eliminating fuel poverty will save the public purse money in the longer term as well as improving the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland.
“A new fuel poverty target and strategy is urgently required. The new strategy must look at the whole picture of why people are in fuel poverty including low incomes as well as energy efficiency.
“In particular those receiving benefits whose income has been capped and frozen will struggle to cope when fuel prices rise as they inevitably will.”
Norman Kerr, director of the national fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland said:
“One of the effects of homes not being energy efficient is that a high number of Scots are in fuel poverty, which often results in debt, discomfort and ill health. Making homes energy efficient is essential as it reduces fuel bills and will mean more people can heat their home to an adequate level. The Scottish Government must use the recommendations of its advisory groups to set targets for improving energy efficiency and also go beyond that to target all the main drivers of fuel poverty. It is clearly not acceptable that anyone should have to live in a cold, damp home in Scotland today.”
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!