Green Deal update. Due to changes in Government policy Green Deal funding is no longer available for customers. We will update this page when we are have further information about any alternatives.
There’s an old saying that “an Englishman’s home is his castle”, but the problem is that, just like real castles, many of England’s houses – and Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish ones too – were often built a very long time ago, and are draughty, poorly insulated and cost a King’s ransom to heat!
Britain has some of the oldest housing stock in the world, and an estimated half of it is not properly insulated. The Building Research Establishment (BRE) say that today’s homes are six and a half times more energy efficient than those built even just 30 years ago, which, according to British Gas, means that on average a third of the amount spent on energy in the UK’s older homes is wasted immediately.
The Green Deal
That should all be changing, however, with the Government’s Green Deal initiative launched last year. Said to be the biggest home improvement programme since the end of the Second World War, the idea behind the scheme could hardly be simpler. A loan to pay for part, or all, of the energy efficiency improvement work is provided, and then gradually paid back over time from the savings householders make on their energy bills.
The sort of things that could typically be covered include loft or wall insulation, double glazing, draught-proofing, better heating systems and renewable energy installations. The scheme is open to anyone in England, Scotland or Wales – but it does not apply to residents of Northern Ireland.
How Does it Work?
The first step towards getting your Green Deal loan is to have an assessment by an accredited assessor, who will look into the details of your current energy arrangements, boiler, heating systems, insulation, actual energy usage and so on, to see if the scheme is appropriate for your circumstances.
Once that has been done, you’ll be given a report which should contain recommendations based on the assessors findings, and then it’s time to make your application to a Green Deal Provider for funding under the scheme.
If you’re successful, your Green Deal Provider will arrange the installation and you get to have the work done without having to pay the upfront costs – or only a proportion of them if you choose to do something that the loan will only partly fund. Then all you need to do is enjoy your newly energy-efficient house and simply make repayments, plus interest, via your energy bills over the next 10 to 25 years, from what you save.
Things to Bear in Mind
As a general rule, homes which currently use fairly high amounts of energy typically benefit most from the scheme and for many people, it could be a great idea, but there are a few things to bear in mind before you sign up.
- Like anything else you buy, it can sometimes pay you to shop around, and compare the quotes for the same work from a number of different Green Deal accredited installers.
- The interest rates you pay can vary between providers.
- The loans are linked to the property, not the person who obtained them. If you move home, they will fall to the next occupier to pay.
- You can only get as a loan the equivalent of the energy savings you can be expected to make over the period of the loan – which is 25 years at most.
- Some kinds of energy efficiency improvements have a lifespan that is shorter than 25 years; you might find yourself still paying out for something which has itself already been replaced.
The point to bear in mind is that it’s really all about improving the energy efficiency of the property, not specifically about making the bill-payer better off – at least not in monetary terms – although you do stand to make a valuable gain in terms of your carbon footprint and green credentials.
Intended to operate alongside the Green Deal scheme, ECO – Energy Companies Obligation – is another energy efficiency initiative to help householders to make energy saving improvements for their homes, and replaces the earlier Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP).
Under the terms of ECO, the big energy suppliers have a legal duty to help improve the efficiency of homes, with a particular focus on hard-to-treat buildings and vulnerable consumers – and your own supplier should be able to tell you what might be available based on your own circumstances.
Aimed at low income households and communities, the ECO scheme can provide improved heating packages and insulation measures for privately owned or rented households that meet the eligibility conditions which include the receipt of certain benefits.
The ECO Umbrella
There are three distinct elements under the ECO umbrella:
The current scheme runs until the end of March next year (2015), but moves are afoot to extend it until 2017, with a few changes – although the details of them are still to be fully ironed out. They will include amongst other things a lower CERO target and the introduction of some new primary measures, along with various changes to the CSCO eligibility requirements.
With a bit of luck, however, the biggest change will be to British homes; if the schemes prove as successful as the Government hope, they’ll still be just as old, of course, but no longer cold and draughty!