The union Unison have announced a new proposal to address the UK energy crisis by reducing the need for large scale fracking. The report will be released today (16 June) at the union's Annual Energy Conference in Brighton.

It suggests a free door-to-door assessment programme that would identify remedial works required for every house to meet the minimum energy efficiency standards, which they say could save consumers between £300 and £600 each year.

Low-income households would receive the work free, but capped at a maximum of £10,000. Others would have access to a 10-year interest-free loan. This would preserve local gas supplies currently being lost through poor insulation.

Unison claim the UK is reaching crisis point and within the next five years will need to import up to 70% of gas from other countries.

The report comes in the wake of the Queen's Speech this month where the government confirmed it would continue with legislation that would allow fracking companies to run shale gas lines through private property without permission.

Critics argue fracking contaminates water supplies and can cause earthquakes.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis, said: "The UK's energy supplies have reached crisis point and the government must take action to bring millions of households in from the cold. Unless the government invests in a long-term strategy to preserve our dwindling North Sea gas supplies, we will be relying on expensive imported energy and wide scale fracking for shale gas.

"The UK is lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to the amount of energy that is wasted because of poorly insulated homes, and the government's inability to deal with increased energy prices. The country is being put at the mercy of international markets by increasingly relying on imported gas supplies."