At long last the government’s major energy efficiency policy, the Green Deal, launches today to very little fanfare. So why are we so cautious of the flagship Green Deal policy?
If you don’t already know what the Green Deal is – it’s a new scheme which provides you with the money up-front to install energy efficiency measures in your home. You then pay back the money over a period of time plus interest, and the money is collected via your energy bills.
However, the idea is that the measures you have installed will save you more money on your energy bills than the cost of the loan repayments – meaning you actually save some money. Or that’s the theory, at least.
It’s not easy being Green
Today’s Green Deal launch is only really a partial launch. If you want a Green Deal, you can have your house assessed as of today – but you won’t be able to access any finance under the Green Deal until January next 2013.
It’s important to point out that unlike many of the other energy efficiency schemes that have been and gone over the last few years, this is not a scheme of government grants. Although the Green Deal is backed by government standards, there is very little public money involved.
At Which? we’ve been clear about our reservations on the Green Deal. We think that savings estimates should be based on detailed energy usage data rather than just average figures, as this calculation will ultimately affect the size of loan you can get.
We want to see a ban on cross-selling of items on credit during a Green Deal visit, and we don’t want to see excessive early repayment fees. We also want to see Green Deal quotes that are in a clear and comparable format across all providers.
Keeping up the pressure
We’ve been pressing the government hard on these points and will continue to do so. On top of that, we’ll be carrying out our own investigations, including mystery shopping, to check that companies are sticking to the consumer protections the government have put in place.
Above all, we want to see a Green Deal that protects consumers from dodgy sales practices.
Being more energy efficient is a simple, low cost way of cutting your energy bills. However, evidence suggests it’s not a high priority for most people. Have you considered taking out a loan, or even the Green Deal itself, to make energy efficiency improvements to your home? Or are you feeling wary of the Green Deal?