Friends of the Earth Scotland announced today that Robin Harper MSP was the winner of their MSP Home Energy Challenge. He achieved the greatest home carbon reduction during 2008 of all five contestants taking part in the challenge. The result was announced at an awards ceremony in the Scottish Parliament this evening. The prize, £500 for the MSP’s chosen charity, will go to Childline.

Five MSPs, one from each party represented in the Scottish Parliament, took up the challenge in late 2007 to achieve the greatest reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from their home over a year. This could be achieved throu+gh installing insulation, energy efficiency measures or micro-renewables such as solar panels, with the contestants paying for any improvements to their homes out of their own pockets.

In addition to the announcement that Robin Harper MSP was the overall winner, awards were also presented to Rob Gibson MSP (SNP, Highlands) and Jim Hume MSP (Lib Dem, South of Scotland) for “Best future energy saving plans”. Both MSPs have well-advanced plans to install microrenewables on their homes during 2009, but due to the time-consuming process of applying for planning permission and other paperwork were not able complete these during the year-long challenge. A further award of “Best behavioural changes” was made to Jack McConnell MSP (Labour, Motherwell & Wishaw) and Mary Scanlon MSP (Conservative, Highlands). Both MSPs made significant energy-saving changes to their routines over the year, including turning appliances off at the wall, cutting down on tumble drier use and avoiding overfilling the kettle.

Overall winner Robin Harper MSP said:

“I’m delighted to have won Friends of the Earth’s MSP Home Energy Challenge. Over the course of the year my home has undergone quite a transformation. Some of the measures have been large and some small, but all have helped reduce both our energy consumption and our bills.
“One alteration which made an immediate difference to both the warmth of the house and my heating bill was installing loft insulation. Many homes throughout Scotland could benefit from similar action and Government must act to help households in this area.  Challenges like this one are win-win for everyone who takes part, as we all gained from the investments we made.  Praise is due to all my colleagues who took part as we are all willing to try to set a good example and give people ideas they can use. I’ve learnt a lot over the past year, and I can only hope this challenge will inspire both the Scottish public and those in Government who can, and must, make the policy changes that are desperately needed to address the issues of fuel poverty and climate change.”

Joint winner of the “Best future energy saving plans” award Jim Hume MSP said:

“I’m delighted to receive this award.  It was surprisingly cheap and easy to make my home greener.  Swapping light bulbs for energy saving bulbs and putting reflective backing on my radiators were quick cost effective ways that made my home more energy efficient. Next year I hope to be even greener as plans for my new wind turbine and solar panels progress.”

Joint winner of the “Best future energy saving plans” award Rob Gibson MSP said:

“Robin Harper deserves congratulations for his CO2 reduction. However my home is producing the least carbon by some margin thus doing least damage to the environment. Of course there is always more that I can try and cut. However I hope my plans to install micro-renewables can be started this year thus further cutting my carbon emissions. It was a worth while challenge and I am glad to have taken part. Reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere can only be a good thing, and I want our experiences to be relayed to the wider public to show what can be done.”

Joint winner of the “Best behavioural changes” award Jack McConnell MSP said:

“Taking part in the MSP home energy challenge has certainly been interesting. The display device which tells you your electricity use from minute to minute was very useful, and would certainly encourage change. I wash dishes more regularly than I use the dishwasher now – the machine was going off the scale when we put the dishwasher on!  Changes to external walls, floors and attic space are more of a challenge, but I’m sure we can all make a difference over time.”

Joint winner of the “Best behavioural changes” award Mary Scanlon MSP said:

“Taking part in the challenge was a great reminder that there are simple, cheap and effective ways to improve our energy efficiency. One of the measures I took during the challenge was to place 
reflective backing onto my radiators and found that this small measure made a significant difference to my energy usage. I live in a relatively new house in Inverness so I think the results from my contribution will show owners of even new builds that much can be done to reduce energy bills and therefore help to protect the environment.  Overall this was an extremely useful exercise and I will continue to monitor my energy usage at home, something many families are having to do during these times of financial hardship.”

Duncan McLaren, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“Scotland’s homes are responsible for nearly a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions, so having an energy-saving home really can help save the planet as well as the pennies. Our five MSPs have discovered that while it’s cheap and easy to take many simple energy saving steps, a bigger cut in carbon emissions often involves more time and hassle. Government action and increased funding can help cut that hassle, and we hope our participants will now support our campaign to make energy saving easier for all Scots.”

Chas Booth from the Association for the Conservation of Energy said:

“While some of our MSPs found it easy to make substantial energy savings, many of them found that cutting carbon at home isn’t as hassle-free as it should be. We hope all MSPs will work together over the coming months to ensure that the Scottish Climate Change Bill contains measures that make it easier for Scots to have warm homes without a warming planet.”

The MSPs started and ended the challenge with an audit carried out by the Energy Saving Trust. Measures taken to improve energy efficiency include installing draught proofing, insulation, better boilers, double glazing, room thermostats and low energy lighting. The project was supported by Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation, Superglass Insulation and the Energy Saving Trust.


Media contact: Owen Davis 0131 243 2719 (office) 0131 243 2715 (redirect to mobile)


Dowload the full results of the MSP Home Energy Challenge.