Community-funded or council-implemented energy initiatives have become increasingly widespread in recent months as concerns over the cost of electricity and gas continue to exacerbate.

Currently, the average household spends around £1,200 a year on energy bills. In the past month three different energy providers have announced an increase in their tariffs which could add up to £100 to a household's bill.

Birmingham City Council has launched an energy saving scheme designed to keep these costs down and reduce the city's carbon output.

The scheme, entitled Birmingham Energy Savers will see up to 60,000 homes equipped with energy saving measures by 2020 and will reduce the city's carbon output by around 1,638 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Funded by the government’s Green Deal initiative, private investment and council borrowing, money will be invested into properties and then paid back by householders over a 25-year period.

The council hope to install thousands of solar panels on homes and businesses across the city over the next few years.

A domestic photovoltaic system can reduce a household's energy bill by 50 per cent, but the benefits do not stop there.

Those who have solar panels installed will also benefit directly from the government's Feed in Tariff and will receive financial compensation for any electricity generated by their system that is put into the national grid.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker praised the initiative, saying: "Birmingham City Council is really taking the lead in reducing fuel poverty and making Birmingham cleaner and greener.

"The Green Deal will be a vital tool in helping the city reach its ambitious targets, allowing people to get energy efficient upgrades to their home and save money in the process.

"The funding we have given Birmingham will help kick-start the Green Deal and I’m excited by the council’s plans to transform buildings and save energy."

Birmingham is the second largest city in Britain and the success of this scheme could well spark a series of similar programmes across the country.