The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is integrating all its information into the newly transformed Gov.uk website.
The Gov.uk website got a new look last year to streamline the presentation and to make it very simple to use and read.
While the result is perhaps a bit ‘boring’ in terms of design it is a very useful website that is now even more accessible, to even more people. You will be surprised how much you can learn on there if you have a look around.
Our interest today is in the DECC element – as you know we like to keep you abreast of news relating to climate change and green living.
So the key elements of the DECC part of the website are mainly things that affect us on a national basis and are all very important (but may feel removed from our daily lives) such as:
- Maintain UK energy security,
- Manage use/disposal of radioactive and nuclear substances and waste
- Increase use of low carbon technologies
- Use evidence to inform energy and climate change policies
- Reduce demand for energy from industry
- Reduce the United Kingdom’s Greenhouse Gas emissions (80% by 2050)
- Provide regulation and licensing for energy industries and infrastructure
- Take international action to mitigate climate change
As we said – perhaps not that much immediate interest to every home owner but an essential part of keeping us powered up in the UK, without breaking the planet.
So the bit that the DECC does that is likely to be of most immediate interest to you, our users, is:
Obviously this is going to be of interest to everyone who pays bills, and includes initiatives that we have mentioned before including:
- Green Deal
- Warm Home Discount scheme
- Warm Front scheme
- Energy Companies Obligation (ECO)
- The smart meters programme
Find out more in the DIY Doctor Green Living section.
The Green Deal is a government initiative with the aim of making 14m properties across the country more energy efficient. This is in a desperate bid to reduce the carbon emissions currently being released into the atmosphere. The government has set itself a target of reducing these emissions by 80% by the year 2050; a big goal that needs ambitious measures to take place in order to be met. It is no surprise then, that this month we are seeing the launch of “the biggest home improvement scheme since the Second World War”, as coined by climate minister Nick Clegg.
The appeal of the Green Deal comes from the idea that home owners will be able to give their homes necessary energy efficiency upgrades at no upfront cost. This is due to the “golden rule” of the Green Deal. This states that property improvements will be financed by the Green Deal Loan; a financial system that allows the property owner to pay back for improvements in monthly installments through their energy bills. Now here’s the clever bit: the money paid towards improvements will never be allowed to exceed the money the property owner saves on their energy bills. Hence, the owner of any energy inefficient property can have it spruced up by Green Deal Installers, without the usual pinch of heavy upfront costs.
It all seems a bit too good to be true, and now perhaps it is. A Guardian survey of the 24 listed Green Deal Assessors found that, out of the 18 that were contactable, 5 claimed they would be charging an upfront fee for these assessments ranging from £95-150. Ouch! After months of being told that there will be no upfront cost involved in this revolutionary scheme, property owners are bound to be releasing some “tuts” and raising some “I told you so” eyebrows at this news.
It is now feared that, despite the savings that will be inevitably made by property owners in the long run, they will be put off ever taking part in the scheme if faced with these upfront costs. After all, times are hard in Britain, and with Christmas lurking in very recent past, nobody has buckets of spare cash laying around.
However, what is vital to remember at this crucial moment for the Green Deal Scheme is that its long term benefits are invaluable to both the planet and property owners. Not only will the Green Deal help the ever-more damaged environment, it will significantly increase the value of properties and make them more comfortable places to live.
So don’t be too quick to judge the Green Deal; it means good and will hopefully be allowed to do good.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has expressed concerns about
installers of energy-efficient products using high-pressure tactics to ensure that customers sign up.
Following their investigation the OFT have written to fifty leading installers of energy-saving products to insist that they improve their practices.
The OFT found various problems which ranged from, paperwork issues, to staying in a customers home for up to three hours, to failing to provide information on the customers rights to cancellation.
Energy Saving Installations expected to increase because of the Green Deal
As the Green Deal comes into effect this month this sector of the building industry is expected to experience growth, while the rest of the building industry is suffering from contraction. So it is vital that steps are taken to improve consumer confidence in installers of energy-efficient products.
The Green Deal will allow homeowners to have energy saving work carried out on their house and then pay for that work by adding the cost to their energy bills. We have written more about the Green Deal in our Projects section.
How to Avoid Cowboy Builders
DIY Doctor has been working to help consumers avoid Cowboy Builders for years. we do this with a variety of measures listed under our Home Improvement Protection Solution (HIPS) section of the website.
The information is free and includes a ‘Desired Outcome Contract’ designed to be used by homeowners who are employing builders and installers, there is also information on finding reputable tradesmen through Trust Mark. To help protect your payments there is information about Bond Pay which securely holds the money for the contracted work; only paying the contractor once each stage of the work is completed.
How to stay safe when employing energy-saving installers
If you are considering having energy saving work on your house, then you can read through the information in our Home Improver Protection Solution section to help you employ the right installer for the job. As a brief guide to avoiding a situation where you feel pressured into buying energy-saving products follow these steps:
- Don’t employ cold callers
- Ask friends for recommendations, if they have had similar work to yours
- Ask the installer for references from customers who have had similar work to yours
- Don’t expect an installer to be able to give you a price over the phone
- When booking appointments make it clear you will not decide on the day they call
- Ask about cancellation procedures when booking the appointment
- If the installers seem pushy on the phone don’t book an appointment
- Make appointments with three installers and keep notes on each one, so you can compare like-with-like
- It is a good idea to have someone else with you who can ensure you ask all you should and help you take notes
There is more information on our HIPS package here.
If you want to find out more about the Green Deal we have project pages under our Green Living section which you might also find very useful.
The Government launched an initiative called the Green Deal earlier this year, but it appears the public are not interested. Not one household has registered to take part in the scheme, according to a report in the Telegraph this week.
If you are now thinking, what is the Green Deal, then you can read What is the Green Deal? in our Green Living Section, (as ever we try to keep it simple).
In a nutshell the scheme is designed to make our homes more energy efficient without having to pay for work up front, instead the work is carried out by approved contractors who have an arrangement to collect the money back in small increments via your fuel bills.
The idea being that the energy saving will decrease your bills so the energy saving work will ‘pay for itself’. It is worth noting that when your home is assessed for the work the contractor will have to prove that the expected savings will be equal to, or more than the cost of the work, which is known as the ‘Golden Rule’.
These assessments have been available since 1 October prior to the launch of the scheme in January 2013, but the tumbleweed must be blowing through the offices of registered contractors as they wait for customers.
The Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker had to admit that “no assessments have yet been lodged” on the Government’s official register. The shadow minister described the situation as a “shambles”.
So why are people not getting engaged? We would really like to have your thoughts on the Green Deal, which we can then feed this back to Greg Barker.
In our Green Living section you will also find a free energy assessment tool. It is easy to use, you just answer some very simple questions to get a report on what energy saving measures your home could benefit from. This will help you decide if you might benefit from making changes to your property, which may be covered by the Green Deal scheme if you are interested, or they may just be very simple DIY improvements such as improving insulation or even just changing your lightbulbs.
The Government has announced cashback deals for householders who intend to carry out energy-saving home improvements, under the Green Deal, from January next year.
Money will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis so providers should encourage customers to take up the deal sooner rather than later, in order to take advantage of this deal.
Government Energy Secretary Ed Davey said “The Green Deal also presents a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes to take advantage of this transforming market – and now is a critical time. Whatever your business does in this sector, the Green Deal will have an impact. So I say to businesses large and small – gear up, get training and get ready to take advantage of the Green Deal.”
Companies and Individuals who are interested in becoming authorised assessors and installers under the Green Deal Scheme can find out more by following this link to the Green Deal Oversight & Registration Body website or through one of the certification bodies.
Further details are available on the DECC website.
Hopefully this initiative will encourage consumers to commission work for the providers which in turn will save them them money on their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.
To find out more about Green Deal and service providers click here.
For other Green Deal blog posts from DIY Doctor click here.