With the temperature set to dip from unseasonable highs earlier this week to more typical teeth-chattering January temperatures, the Office of Fair Trading’s report into the energy efficiency industry is timely.
If you want to keep your home warm and cut down on your energy bills, insulating your property is the obvious place to start. From simple measures like loft insulation, to more costly and complex things like a new boiler or upgraded heating systems, the payback can be significant both financially and in terms of comfort.
I was therefore worried to see that the OFT’s report, published today, found instances of poor practice. It highlights the use of high-pressure sales techniques, unclear information about paperwork and cancellation rights, and poor quality installations. These will be familiar to anyone who has read our investigations into cavity wall insulation or double glazing sales – research that the OFT drew on in their own report.
Energy efficient spotlight on the Green Deal
The spotlight is about to be shone all the more brightly on the energy efficiency sector later this month, with the launch of the Green Deal. This report will make further uncomfortable reading for the government, who have placed a great deal of faith in the scheme being a ‘game changer’ in this area.
The OFT’s report shows that there is real potential for problems, since people rarely go through the process of improving their homes’ energy efficiency. The OFT also said that the measures that people install are often complicated. This heightens the opportunity for mis-selling – something that we have long been concerned about with the Green Deal due to its novelty and complexity.
It’s essential that the government keeps a close eye on the Green Deal. They have committed to take enforcement action if any providers break the rules – and we’ll be carrying out our own mystery shopping exercises to make sure they keep their word. In the meantime, we have put together a Green Deal checklist for anyone thinking of having an assessment.
Given the OFT’s findings, clearly the guidance and advice in place for energy efficiency installers and salespeople at the moment is not sufficient. Further action is needed. I’m also pleased to see that the OFT will be opening an investigation into the energy efficiency sector. We will work closely with the OFT and the government in the coming months.
Have you had any good or bad experiences with energy efficiency traders? Are you thinking about taking a Green Deal loan?