Get advice to reduce heating bills under the Green Deal
Vulnerable people in West Somerset could get help and advice to reduce their heating bills. A team of seven trained volunteers from the sustainability group, Forum 21, is already helping 17 pensioners through the process known as the Green Deal and it has plans to extend this project to other pensioners later in the year.
The government’s Green Deal scheme offers householders a pay-as-you-go loan to make energy improvements to their homes. There are 45 energy improvements available; for those on limited incomes and on certain benefits, these are free under the Affordable Warmth element of the Green Deal. The start of this process is a Green Deal energy assessment.
Working with Transition Alcombe and Minehead (TMA) Forum 21 has enabled over 60 households in West Somerset to have free Green Deal assessments under a scheme called “Our Green Deal”. This was funded by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and organised by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) in Bristol for residents throughout Somerset. The scheme, which has now ended, involved an assessor visiting the property to assess its energy efficiency and preparing a report on what energy improvements could be done, their cost and whether they were available under the Green Deal.
The 17 people being helped to make energy improvements have had one of these free assessments and will now be able to get improvements to their homes at no cost. They will all benefit from warmer homes and lower energy bills.
Lorna Scott of Forum 21 said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to help so many vulnerable people in West Somerset. We hope we will be able to help even more people at the next stage of our project.”
The Affordable Warmth scheme
This scheme enables people on low incomes and receiving certain benefits to have energy improvements carried out free. Almost all of the 45 stipulated “measures” can be carried out under the ECO (Energy Companies Obligation) Affordable Warmth scheme, including new fuel-efficient boilers, room heaters, cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation, draught proofing, showers, cylinder and loft insulation.
To qualify for the free measures, people have to be in receipt of one or more of the following benefits: pension credit, child tax credit, income support, income related employment and support allowance or income based job seeker’s allowance.
The basic Green Deal scheme
The government wants to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint as part of the wider DECC 2050 plan to achieve energy efficiency in all UK homes.
Householders can apply for Green Deal finance up to £10,000 from a Green Deal “provider” at an interest rate between 6 and 8%. This money is used to pay an approved installer and repaid through the electricity bill. It has to conform to the “golden rule”, ie. the savings in fuel bills must cover the cost of the loan. The loan remains with the property so has to be taken over by any new owner or tenant.
All Green Deal applicants go through the same process: assessment, applying for funding, and installation. There is no obligation on the householder to make any of the improvements suggested. They can choose which improvements they wish to make.
The Carbon Reduction Obligation
Another element of the Green Deal scheme is targeted at people who live in homes with solid walls, which are difficult to heat and expensive to improve. Sixty per cent of West Somerset homes fall into this category. For these homes, the Green Deal loan can be topped up with a grant to pay for the improvements.