Privatised firms shun energy-saving plans

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The Independent Online

Government hopes for energy savings in homes have come to nothing. The privatised companies which sell gas to households have shunned the kind of fuel-saving financial packages advocated by ministers.

The energy minister Tim Eggar and the gas industry regulator Claire Spottiswoode had claimed the liberalisation of the domestic gas market would create a new kind of energy and money-saving deal between companies and customers. But they were wrong.

The news comes as government figures, to be released tomorrow, show British homes have made no real progress in saving energy over the past quarter- century.

Under the proposed deals, households would have been offered cheap loans to buy insulation and draught-proofing. They would have paid off the loans through extra payments on the quarterly gas bill.

But, because they would be using less fuel thanks to the extra insulation, their total bill should have been no higher. And once the loan was paid off the households could then make substantial savings.

However, British Gas recently scrapped plans to pioneer such a scheme in Leeds. Nor are similar energy-saving packages being offered by any of the companies about to start supplying domestic gas in South-west England.

Andrew Warren, the director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, said: ``The private sector won't offer these packages without some incentive to do so - it's essential that the Government gives a kick-start.''