Our undercover investigation into Green Deal assessments has revealed some worrying discrepancies. Home owners need assessments they can rely on if the scheme is going to make a difference to energy bills.
Rising gas and electricity prices worry almost everyone.
And I’m no different – particularly as I’m currently buying a house that’s both bigger and older than the modern flat I have just sold.
It’s got me thinking about how I can make my new home more energy efficient. So I am particularly interested in the government’s Green Deal scheme.
The scheme lets homeowners take out a loan to cover the cost of energy saving measures such as insulation, double glazing, a new boiler or even solar panels. But the Green Deal may not be as straightforward as it seems.
New research by Which? has revealed teething problems with the assessment process – and made me think carefully about whether it is a good deal for me.
Undercover investigation by Which?
Our undercover researchers invited five companies to carry out a Green Deal assessment of the same home.
But our snapshot investigation – the first of its kind into the Green Deal – revealed advisors recommending unsuitable energy-saving measures, as well as big differences between their final reports.
Mistakes were made when assessing the current energy efficiency at the property. Several advisors didn’t ask enough about the heating, incorrectly measuring the floor and wrongly identifying the type of walls. And nearly all our advisors didn’t question the customer enough about how they used their heating systems, which meant they did not get an accurate picture of how much energy they used.
These errors led to big differences on the estimated energy savings we were told we could achieve – ranging from £222 to £549 a year, when these figures should have been broadly comparable.
Early warning on the Green Deal
As the Green Deal is a new initiative – launched back in January – it’s bound to suffer from teething troubles at the start. And to be fair, three of the five visits came out of our investigation pretty reasonably. This was a small-scale investigation, so we don’t know if these results are the same across the country.
But the results have prompted me to look more closely into whether the Green Deal is the best idea for my new home. The scheme says any loan repayments I have to make would, in theory, be covered by the savings on my energy bill.
But any potential savings depend on how much energy I use, as well as the way I use it. And that’s why it’s important to get these early assessments right.
Homeowners must be confident they can trust the advice from qualified advisors to help the Green Deal succeed.
Of course, I’m not likely to know how much energy I will use regularly until I have been living in my new house for a few months. Perhaps by that time any teething problems will be ironed out.