There’s one way which councils could help assist with the cost of energy bills in the long-term, although this particular policy would not assist in the short term and a more radical approach would be required on that front.
However, many of the homes currently being built include social housing which will eventually be utilised to house those on low incomes. The solution is therefore simple, to require as part of the planning permission requirements of the local area, that homes be built with solar panels (both water and electric) and that the insulation put into homes which are being newly built, be to such a high standard that the home could be heated with a candle.
The existing insulating technology we have does include materials that could deliver excellent energy efficiency in homes, all that is required is either to use the better materials or to use more of the materials currently being used.
The problem with current regulations is that they do not go far enough and compel house builders to insulate to such a high degree, they are merely minimums rather than targets. Therefore it often leads to a decision by housebuilders to scrimp and put in the minimum, rather than the maximum, in order to save money.
By making a clear statement of “no maximum insulation, no planning permission”, councils could make a real statement about energy efficiency, and also about ensuring house builders are forced to do the right thing with respect to keeping the cold out.