It’s no secret that many people across the country are concerned about the cost of energy. In fact, a recent survey of 6,000 low-income households by Citizens Advice found that 78% of respondents are worried about the cost of the energy they will consume over winter, with 17% calling fuel bills a “strain” and 26% saying they are unable to heat their home as a result of the high cost of fuel.
And the energy-efficiency of these people’s homes could be a major factor in this – overall, 12% of people polled by Citizens Advice blamed their energy bill woes on inefficient central heating systems or homes, and as the UK’s housing stock is some of the draughtiest and least-efficient in Western Europe, some households are wasting hundreds of pounds every year unnecessarily.
It is understandable that low-income households may feel stuck between a rock and a hard place – although they may be aware that they could cut their gas and electricity bills by making simple energy-efficiency renovations, the cost of these improvements can be restrictively high. This can force households to continue to waste a huge sum of money on energy as they are unable to afford the cost of sustainable home improvements.
But the Green Deal, the Energy Company Obligation and the government cashback scheme can help low-income households afford these renovations without breaking the bank. Although the government cashback scheme has now closed, future Green Deal incentives are set to occur in the near future, enabling people to cut their energy bills without spending a fortune.
Sarah Adams and the Green Deal
The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently outlined the case of Sarah Adams, a business relationships director who benefited from the Green Deal. Ms Adams lived in a two-bedroom maisonette at the top floor of a property, and made enquiries about the government initiative after hearing that her council was offering 100 free Green Deal assessments.
Her property had poor levels of insulation and no central heating, making it particularly cold over the winter. Accordingly, her assessors recommended that she receive draught-proofing, loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, a new wet system and a new boiler, and Ms Adams accepted all the recommendations except for the cavity wall insulation, as she did not own the full building.
These home improvements cost a total of £5,456 – a sum of money that would be unaffordable for the majority of Brits. However, Ms Adams used the Energy Company Obligation, a Green Deal finance plan and the government cashback scheme to pay for the instalments, and set up up a Green Deal finance arrangement of £4,164, received government cashback of £350, and received £838 from the Energy Company Obligation.
This meant she had to pay just £104 up-front to receive a new boiler, wet system, draught proofing and loft insulation, and will pay the majority of the initial cost back through installations on her energy bills. These instalments will not push up her energy bill either – the savings she makes through improved energy efficiency will more than cover her repayment costs.
Since the renovations, Ms Adams’ energy bills have dropped and her home has become faster and easier to heat up. She said the renovations were completed on time, just before the temperatures started dropping and central heating systems started getting fired up.
If you’d like to find out more information about the Green Deal and other energy-efficiency schemes, call the Energy Saving Advice Service by ringing 0300 123 1234, or visit https://www.gov.uk/greendeal.