Leaders of the environmental group WWF Scotland spoke out as the Government is due to launch a consultation on its energy efficiency action plan.

Finance Secretary John Swinney is also expected to announce a new pilot scheme where homeowners are to be offered loans for insulation.

Elizabeth Leighton, of WWF Scotland, said the group had been waiting for an energy efficiency action plan for six years.

She added: "We therefore very much welcome this announcement and hope that ministers will reveal bold initiatives that will allow Scotland to enjoy the same standard of warm, low carbon housing that other northern European countries do."

The Scottish Parliament has already passed legislation setting the target of cutting emissions by 42% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050.

With about a third of emissions coming from homes, Ms Leighton stressed the importance of reducing the demand for domestic power as part of the action plan.

She said: "If the Scottish Government is serious about meeting the world-leading targets set out in the Scottish Climate Change Act, then reducing energy demand from homes will have to play a major role in this action plan.

"Homes account for one third of our carbon emissions and energy efficiency is by far the cheapest and easiest way of reducing our impact while at the same time helping to lift households out of fuel poverty."

She also said introducing loans to help people improve their property's insulation was a "welcome move" but added other initiatives would also be required if Scotland is to achieve its 2020 emissions target.

WWF Scotland is calling for the Government to include a comprehensive home energy retrofit strategy as part of its work.

The group also wants to see council tax incentives for those who improve their energy efficiency and for work to improve energy efficiency to be focused on groups of houses, creating street by street 'low carbon zones'.