Those of us familiar with the Governments Green Deal Scheme, already know that uptake by homeowners to date has been, well, very poor to put it mildly.
BISF properties are not suitable for cavity wall insulation and are treated as solid wall properties. The most suitable form of insulation for this house type is External Wall Insulation. EWI can cost many thousands of pounds to install but it not only insulates the property to a high level, it also dramatically enhances the outward appearance of the house and kerbside appeal. Homeowners previously hoping to take part in the scheme complained of low cash-back incentives designed to offset high installation costs with £650 cash-back being the maximum available allowance. This placed the cost of EWI out of the reach of most owners.
In January 2013, BISF House.com applied to have a BISF property externally insulated under the scheme.
We chose Birmingham Energy Savers (BES) as our Green Deal provider as they were also partnered with Carillion PLC, one of the UK’s largest and most respected Energy Service providers who have insulated hundreds of BISF houses across the UK on behalf of Social Housing Groups & Councils. Our early attempts to take part in the scheme proved disastrous. We found BES help line staff to be poorly trained and ill-equipped to manage applications. Several staff admitted that they had not yet been trained in the newly launched scheme, and to make matters worse, there was only one difficult to access computer set up to deal with Green Deal Applications. Even worse, the wrong type of Survey was carried out on our property by a surveyor who had no former experience in Green Deal Assessments or the construction type of our BISF house.
In short our time and money had been wasted. Despite all further attempts to successfully take part in the scheme and staff calling us to book the wrong type of survey yet again, our faith in the service declined and we withdrew our application. The entire process had been chaotic and more akin to pulling teeth, than taking part in the governments latest flagship scheme. It was therefore no surprise to read several months later that despite millions of pounds worth of investment, only a handful of people had fully adopted the Green Deal Scheme with none as far as we are aware choosing External Wall Insulation.
So what has changed in 2014
We recently received a press release from DECC (The Department for Energy & Climate Change), that reignited our interest.
The scheme will be open for new applications until 30 June 2014. Vouchers will have a validity period of three months, or six months for Solid Wall Insulation ( SWI). However, all work must be completed and vouchers redeemed by 30 September 2014.
The rates have changed for some items: Eg, SWI (Solid Wall Insulation) changes from £650 up to £4000.
These new rates will apply to applications made or redeemed on or after 13 December and the Cashback Administrator will contact people affected by this. We have revised the rates of cashback on offer to better reflect the costs that customers incur in installing measures and as such we expect the increased SWI rates will make it more attractive to consumers, especially as part of a Green Deal finance plan.
For example: ( all costs are illustrative)
Cost to install SWI £7000 Cashback available ( up to max of) £4000 Difference £3000 which can be paid for through a combination of a Green Deal Plan and/or savings or other finance routes.
2014 has seen a significant increase in the level of cash back that is available to adopters of the scheme and if the illustrative example is correct these changes could amount to a huge reduction in the actual physical cost to the homeowner. The conditions attached to the above changes that may not be used in conjunction with ECO funding.
Following this announcement we decided to give The Green Deal a second chance.
Our first step was to use an online tool that would provide us with a very basic assessment.
We used the Stroma Certification Tool from the governments own website. The survey was easy to complete and provided a downloadable report of our property in its current state and gave advice on what could be improved via the Green Deal. Our next step was to contact the Energy Saving Advice Service , part of the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234.
Our call was handled in a swift and professional manner, property details were obtained along with any current energy-saving measures we might already have in place. Following this short survey, we were advised that our property was eligible and that another member of staff would contact us within a few hours or the following morning to discuss the process. We asked the operator if she was aware of the recent changes in cash back funding and to our pleasant surprise, she was fully conversant with the new measures.
All our associated concerns were addressed to our total satisfaction and we were sent an e-mail containing a list of a Green Deal Providers in our area who we could select. Our next step is to arrange the Green Deal Assessment itself which involves a 2hr visit from an assessor who will make recommendations upon what options are most suitable for our property. We can then select a service provider of our choosing to continue the process including any funding options.
Despite our previous experience with Energy Savers Birmingham, we have decided that we will contact them once again to arrange our assessment and hopefully guide us through the entire process.
Our aim is to keep you informed of our progress throughout this entire process and should the figures prove affordable, we will document the entire procedure including the process / fitting / payment and funding options.
Of course much depends on the outcome of the survey and the cost of the External Insulation depending on the system we choose. We have also been advised of further enhancements that are available to us including solar panels, floor insulation and wind turbines that can also be funded under the Green Deal. For the moment though, we are willing to undertake the process one step at a time. Watch This Space!