The Green Deal is coming, and is a major plank in the government’s efforts to help householders manage energy bills and reduce CO2 emissions.
And now a new Green Deal trial pilot scheme is helping to see how people are reacting to the planned measures. The pilot looked at 67 homes in London’s Borough of Sutton. The homes were fitted with energy-saving measures like insulation, more efficient boilers, draught proofing and electricity producing solar panels. Each home was fitted with an average of £13,000 of energy-saving kit.
Big CO2 savings
Homeowners got a 40% grant and were able to pay off the rest through interest-free long-term loans. The improvements brought about an average CO2 reduction per household of an impressive 26%.
It also showed that people didn’t always take on board the cheapest Green Deal repayments options. Customers were all offered credit options that meant their repayments wouldn’t be more than the fuel bill savings their new energy measures offered.
Homeowners not always motivated by the money
In fact, some 41% of the Green Deal trial participants said they were taking part for non-financial reasons, like making their home more comfortable, improving its appearance and taking advantaged of a professional, Green Deal-approved installation service.
Pilot scheme for the Green Deal
The pilot will assist in informing the finer details of the Green Deal, explained Sue Riddlestone, Executive Director of BioRegional, who helped organise the pilot:
“We are pleased to have evaluated the performance of this pilot which should make a useful contribution to the detail of how the Green Deal could operate when it is launched later next year.”
“The CO2 savings from the retrofit are a good start but we need to complete the picture by making sure that the Green Deal makes behaviour change towards using less energy a priority too. Turning down the thermostat is free and it’s going to be persuasive if consumers are told about the cost and carbon savings of that next to those of an expensive solar panel.”
Green deal trial – summary of lessons learned
Whilst this trial started before a change of government and the new Green Deal policy and developments, there is still some very relevant lessons learned for consumers.
Green Deal offer
The offer must be attractive for people to take action. This should include a strong financial incentive, however, this is not the only motivator. The product itself and the communication of benefits must be clear if people are going to make the change.
Flexibility of the Green Deal
Every property and owners are unique, so there must be flexibility built into the retrofit process. This includes both the financial incentive and timelines for completing the energy saving package.
Managing expectations and trust
There must be an open and honest dialogue between the homeowners and the Green Deal fitters and assessors. To create good will and trust, there must be honesty about the financial benefits and the timeline it will take to install.
Green deal loan attached to property
Attaching the green deal loan to the property, and not to the homeowners/individuals is more likely to incentivise those people who are not sure how long they will stay within their property. The payback loan, therefore, should be tied to the property to ensure the maximum take up of the Green Deal loan.
To achieve the desired energy reductions, Green Deal installers will need to be able to effectively educate customers. This approach will enable the most positive outcomes.
Planning permission for home improvements
Expanding the scope of energy saving home improvements that can be done without planning permission (e.g. external wall insulation) will prevent delays and ensure nationwide consistency.
Design of Green Deal improvements
The character of buildings needs to be kept when improvements are undertaken, and care must be taken over the design of improvements.
Energy Company Obligation
To fund energy saving measures which fall outside of the scope of the Green Deal, the Energy Company Obligation should be made available beyond the energy companies.
Run with environmental champions Sutton Council
Sutton Council is one of the UK’s more forward thinking local authorities when it comes to the environment, and won an Environmental Planning Award in 2010 for its sustainability initiatives.
Bringing the Green Deal closer
The Green Deal is the new government initiative aiming to get homes and businesses to improve energy efficiency, reduce fuel bills and help cut carbon emissions. It’s planned that the costs of a Green Deal home energy improvement will be spread out and paid through energy bills. Green Abode will continue to report on Green Deal initiatives, so watch these pages for the latest on this major new energy and money-saving scheme.