Can I get help to make my home more energy efficient?
Homes in the UK are some of the least energy efficient in the world, according to the UK government.
Various government schemes are available to help you make your home more energy efficient.
1. What funding is available?
The Green Deal loan scheme can help you pay for improvements on your home without having to pay all the costs in advance.
Cheaper energy bills
Advice from the Energy Saving Trust:
- Insulate your hot water cylinder. Could save up to £60 a year
- Get an eco-shower head. Some water companies are giving them away free; could save you up to £75 a year
- Swap halogen spot lights with new LED bulbs. Replacing all traditional bulbs with energy saving versions can save £60 a year
You pay it off with the savings you make on your bills after the energy saving items have been installed.
The loan is attached to the property and not to you individually.
Under the Energy Company Obligation larger energy companies pay all or part of the cost of making efficiency improvements in your home. You do not have to be a current customer of the energy company.
The Feed-in Tariff allows users to be paid for generating their own electricity through solar panels or a wind turbine.
This is available if you live in England, Scotland and Wales but is not currently available in Northern Ireland.
The Renewable Heat Premium Payment can help with the installation of renewable heating technologies in your home.
2. What improvements do they cover?
A Green Deal can help you make a wide range of energy-saving improvements such as heating, lighting, draught-proofing, double-glazing, insulation and renewable energy generation.
If you are eligible for the Energy Company Obligation payments, this can run alongside the Green Deal. Both schemes can cover part or all of the cost of installing cavity wall or solid wall insulation or of a new energy-efficient boiler.
The Renewable Heat Premium Payment offers a range of payments - for example you can get £600 if you install a solar energy water heater or £2,000 for a biomass boiler.
3. Am I eligible?
You can benefit from the Green Deal if your home is not energy efficient and if it wasn't built or renovated in the last 3 years.
You will also qualify if your walls and loft are not insulated, you have an old boiler and no heating controls or you are interested in renewable heating or generating your own power - for example with solar panels.
You can contact the Energy Saving Advice Service who can put you in touch with a Green Deal approved advisor to come to your property to see what improvements you can make and how much you could save on your energy bills.
Alternatively you can find an approved assessor using the UK Government's search tool.
To be eligible for the Energy Company Obligation you must either be on certain benefits, live in a hard-to-treat home (e.g. one with solid walls) or live in a low income area.
4. How can I get funding?
For the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation you will need to get an assessment of your home or your circumstances. You may be charged for the Green Deal assessment.
If you live in a property and own the freehold, you will not need anyone else's agreement before you can have any work done.
If you are a tenant or a leaseholder, you will usually need the agreement of the landlord.
Similarly, landlords will usually need the agreement of the tenant or leaseholder before they can have any work done.
If you move into a property which has a previous Green Deal in place, the landlord or seller must show you a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate which will explain what improvements have been made and how much you'll need to repay through future energy bills.
For the Renewable Heat Premium payment you have to apply for the funds via the Energy Saving Trust if you live in England, Wales and Scotland or if you live in Northern Ireland via the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
How much you get depends on the type of heating system you're installing. You'll be sent a voucher confirming how much money you'll get.
After the installation is complete you'll need to send the voucher and paperwork to the Energy Saving Trust. They will let you know when you'll be paid.
5. Beware cold callers
Watch out for some rogue companies who appear to be making promises related to the Green Deal and other schemes in order mislead customers.
Consumers can be offered "free" boilers, insulation or double glazing in exchange for a one-off charge which can be as much as £400.
You can check for yourself if the company is authorised and listed via the Green Deal Oversight and Registration Body which manages the authorisation scheme.
The BBC Wales consumer programme X-Ray has had over 250 calls from customers who are unhappy with the service they've received from companies.
Many paid up thinking they would get a new boiler - but all they have had is an assessment.
If you have to pay for an assessment, it should cost around £120.
If you get certain means-tested benefits you should not have to pay anything up-front. Contact the Energy Saving Advice Line on 0300 123 1234 to find out if you are eligible for genuinely free help.
6. If you are getting work done on your home
Spotting a scam
- Were you contacted out of the blue? (although door-to-door sales are permitted under Green Deal legislation).
- Does the deal seem to be too good to be true?
- Have you been asked to pass on any personal or financial details, or pay an upfront fee?
- Are you under pressure to respond quickly?
- Are the contact details vague, such as a PO box, premium-rate number (starting '09') or mobile number?
- Does any of the correspondence you receive contain glaring grammatical or spelling mistakes?
- Are you requested to keep the matter confidential?
All authorised companies must carry the Green Deal quality mark and have a unique identification number.
Energy Saving Trust is one example of an organisation that is certifying installers to carry out work through the Green Deal.
Discuss what work is right for you and what finance options are available with your Green Deal provider.
You can get quotes from as many providers as you like - you don't have to choose all, or any, of their recommendations.
The Green Deal provider can then arrange for any work to be done.
7. I think I might have been scammed, what should I do?
If you are not satisfied with the way the sale or work that has been made, contact your local Trading Standards and they can investigate further.
Your improvement works should be covered by a guarantee - check your paperwork to find out if you're covered and how to complain.
If a complaint or enquiry about the Green Deal cannot be resolved by the provider or supplier, you can contact the Energy Ombudsman Service.