Incentivising green behaviours

Improving the environmental performance of homes can be expensive, and can take many years to pay for itself through reduced energy consumption. Many local authorities already offer financial support to home owners keen to upgrade their homes. The same principle could be applied in new communities, where subsidies could be offered to encourage the installation of environmental technologies, ranging from expensive solar panels to very cheap low-energy light bulbs.

There are a number of simple changes households can make to reduce their energy and water consumption, including:

  • using low-energy light bulbs
  • installing energy efficient white goods (the most efficient having an EU energy rating of A++)
  • fitting chimney balloons during summer when fireplaces are not used
  • fitting dual flush toilets, or using a cistern displacement device to reduce the water used in each flush
  • using water butts to collect waste water for use in the garden

Running environmental awareness campaigns early on in the life of a community might help to promote a sense of shared environmental values and could involve giving away some of these pieces of small and inexpensive equipment.

Local authorities, and other organisations such as stewardship organisations, might consider offering subsidies to home owners or property developers interested in investing in more expensive environmental technology, like solar panels, which might otherwise prove to be uneconomical to fit. They may choose to work in partnership with utility companies to devise schemes that could cover the cost, either fully or in part, of fitting the technologies.