Change and changeabout

O swell the curl’d waters above the main
That things might change or cease

I’m back on the Green Deal again.

It’s great that the Government recognised that the scheme needed some tweaking and adjusted things by extending the cash back scheme and bringing in the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.

The figures since the scheme was set up in the first place have spoken for themselves really. There is no doubt that there is a lot of interest amongst the home owning public in improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

Why wouldn’t there be? After all energy is money and money is something most of us could do with either having more of or having what we do have go further.

One major downside has been the interest rate – set at around 7% for the duration of the loan. Pretty unattractive when a high street personal loan can be obtained a much more palatable 4.5% to 5% – soon to be even lower if the weekend’s papers are to be believed.

Small wonder that many have been taking the hit on the cost of the Green Deal Assessment (or even found a freebie one) and then paid for the work to be done themselves without taking out Green deal Finance because it’s so much cheaper to do it that way.

Martin Lewis, the money-saving expert has even worked out some rather complicated moves involving interest-free credit cards and balance transfers to off-set as much of the cost as possible, rather than bother with the whole finance deal.

Another, major, drawback in my view is the need for the work to be carried out by registered Green Deal Providers. I understand the reasoning behind this (quality, measurement of the scheme’s success etc).

However many householders – myself included – prefer to have work carried out on their homes by builders or plumbers that they know and trust and have used before.

In many cases such work would be done within the scope of planned refurbishment by said trusted, known tradesmen. It’s just a lot of hassle to have to try and get another company in to install, for example the insulation or new boiler, when there’s a perfectly competent company already doing the new kitchen, for example.

In my case, I checked where my nearest accredited Green Deal installer was, in case it was worth replacing my ancient boiler this way. The nearest was 12 miles away, three of the five nearest were insulation installers, the other two were ‘energy management’ companies.

Even when I stretched the radius to 25 miles, I still didn’t get the kind of local, reliable trustable tradesman that I really want to use. And, although one of the results did offer ‘boiler and heating installations’, they were the wrong side of The M25 for any job I could offer to make economic sense for them.

For many local tradesmen, relying on word of mouth, it’s just not worth their applying for Green Deal accreditation on the off chance that some new customers might come along.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the figures now things have been tweaked to see what, if any, difference it all makes in the long term.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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