The Liberal Democrats have outlined their plans for so called energy mortgages: special loans for home owners that would help pay for improvements to make their homes more energy efficient.
Under the scheme, the loans would be tied to the house, so any subsequent owner would take over the repayments with the house purchase. The Lib Dems say the cost of the repayments would easily be offset by savings on energy bills.
Britain's domestic carbon emissions account for 27 per cent of our total carbon dioxide production. This is compared to less than five per cent in Sweden, which is considerably colder.
If Britain had Swedish standards of energy efficiency, the average British household would save £385 a year on their energy bills, the party says.
The policy proposes that by 2011 all new houses would be built to tough new energy efficiency standards. But that is only part of the picture. Since the majority of the houses that we will live in already exist, if we are to meet energy efficiency targets, we need to find a way of improving the efficiency of what we already have.
Chris Huhne said: "With an 'energy mortgage', proven improvements will deliver real energy cuts that will pay for themselves and save money in the long term, will be accessible to everyone. Building new homes to tough, rigourously enforced standards, would significantly cut fuel bills and effectively pay for itself, making homes more affordable for first time buyers."
Over and above tackling the carbon we emit at home, the Lib Dems want a cap and trade scheme for energy companies. Currently, they have no incentive to sell less energy, but under the scheme the Lib Dems have put forward, energy companies would have to buy permits to sell more than their regulatory allowance, and could sell on their surplus.
The plans have been welcomed by environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund. A spokesperson told the BBC: "It is good to see political parties getting to grips with the environmental challenge we face, and this policy raises the bar for other parties to match."
It added that it was impressed with the scope and credibility of the scheme. ®