The Green Deal – Is this the Government’s latest con?

Listening to good old BBC Radio 4 t’other day, I became aware of something called The Green Deal which the ConDem government are going to try to sell to us as the latest thing in economy and savings.

The Green Deal is designed to help householders and businesses increase the energy efficiency of properties across the UK.

You can make energy-saving improvements to your home or business without having to pay all the costs up front through the Green Deal.

Energy-saving improvements include:

  • insulation – eg loft or cavity wall insulation
  • heating
  • draught-proofing
  • double glazing
  • renewable energy technologies – eg solar panels or wind turbines

This is a 4 stage process outlined below, guaranteed not to confuse the elderly or infirm (my sarcasm, not theirs)

  1. Get an assessment of your property to see what improvements you can make and how much you could save on your energy bills.
  2. Choose a Green Deal provider to carry out the work. You discuss with them what work you want done and whether the Green Deal is right for you.
  3. If you go ahead with the improvements you must sign your Green Deal Plan – this is a contract between you and the provider stating what work will be done and how much it will cost. The provider will then arrange for a Green Deal installer to do the work.
  4. Once the work is done, you’ll pay off the money in instalments through your electricity bill.

Sounds simple?  Hmm, maybe not.

I am in no way financially qualified but most of the pitfalls of this scheme appear to fall within Stage 4, the Repayment Phase.

My own personal reservation with schemes such as this, and specifically Solar Panels, is that I have been told that the break-even point on a solar panel installation is longer than the life-expectancy of the panels themselves, meaning that they cease working and need replacing before you’ve finished paying for them.  If this is not true, please, please, please tell me the absolute facts so that I and others will know.

Another issue, which has brought to the fore locally around here, is the nature of the finance agreement.

According to ShropshireLive. com prospective purchasers should be aware that this is not a conventional loan.

“The borrowed money is paid back through energy bills over a period of time so the loan stays with the property where the savings are occurring and not with the bill payer,” said Diana Packwood,  who has over 20 years’ experience in conveyancing work and leads a team of legal experts in the homes department of Shrewsbury-based Wace Morgan.

“This also applies to people renting properties. So if you are moving into a home with a ‘Green Deal’ the owner or landlord must provide you with all the relevant information.

“As the new occupier of the home you’ll need to make repayments for the improvements through the electricity bill.”

Debby Gittins commented that as this initiative was only just being introduced many new home buyers may not be aware of its implications.

“Although the idea behind the scheme is a good one it is something which purchasers need to bear in mind as they could be burdened with repaying a loan of several hundred pounds,” she stressed.

It would appear that the majority of the British public either haven’t heard of the scheme or simply don’t understand it.  The Electrical Contractors’ Association has found that 98 per cent of Britons say they don’t fully understand the Green Deal.

After the debacle of last year’s PCC elections it seems to me that the government delight in making these schemes available but don’t want to invest any money in explaining it to the people that matter.

Finally, I can’t possibly leave this subject without mentioning the Policy Exchange think tank.  They believe that being able to snoop on our neighbours’ energy bills would lead us to cut our own by more than £75 a year, a think tank has suggested, in a classic case of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.

The psychological effect of knowing others are paying less than you stings use into changing our own habits, according to a report by Policy Exchange, with evidence from the UK and abroad showing households reduced energy use when their bills are compared with more energy efficient neighbours.

This may well be a good idea, I’m certainly not saying that it isn’t, but it does seem to me to come with potential pitfalls, so please be careful, and mind how you go.

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2 thoughts on “The Green Deal – Is this the Government’s latest con?

  1. Dave Almond

    Most solar panels come with a guarantee that performance will be above a certain level after ‘x’ years, compared to performance on day 1. This is usually about 80% after 25 years. Solar panels have been around for at least 40 years, so there is good reason for thinking that these performance levels can be acheived. Payback on them will depend on whether or not you will be entitled to any feed-in-tariff, the cash that the government pay to incentivise take-up of renewable technologies. Lets say you are, then the payback will tend to be around 10 to 12 years. A word of caution though, if you buy solar panels through the Green Deal, you won’t get the tariff, as government consider this a double incentive, that is against EU regs I believe.
    The links from Green Deal to Energy Company Obligations need to be highlighted, as many will get extra assistance that will be grant funded.
    Green Deal has huge potential to do good, hope people don’t get put off by negative reporting, as they may remain in uninsulated homes as a result, when lots of help is available.

    Reply

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