It seems that unlike investments, our energy bills can only go up. Unless, that is, you take control. There are a number of ways that you can reduce the cost of heating and powering your home. For many people, particularly those on limited or restricted incomes, the cost of energy is a crippling one. For those on a limited income from a pension, winter fuel payments can only go so far, especially in colder winters, and at the same time staying warm is essential. There are, in addition to plenty of small things you can do yourself a number of government schemes to help battle the bills.
The Green Deal
The most talked about energy saving measures in the home include loft and cavity wall insulation, draught proofing and low energy appliances. Some of these measures can be relatively affordable and most are worth the investment in the long term. For those on lower incomes, including pensioners and those on benefits, some of these measures can be free or subsidised, while a new scheme from the government, the Green Deal, offers a simple way to finance energy efficiency for your home. So what’s on offer and is it worth it?
How the scheme works
The Green Deal is, basically a loan from the government to fit a range of measures in your home. These include the big ones – loft and cavity wall insulation. These measures are particularly good at helping to reduce the costs of heating your home but they can be two of the more costly measures to implement. The Green Deal is not a grant and any money borrowed will need to be paid back – however the scheme is designed to be affordable and is also set up so that the money is loaned (effectively) to the building in question. Repayments are collected through your electricity bill and they are designed to be affordable. If you move, the charge is applied to the bill of the new occupier of the property. It’s this last feature that makes the Green Deal attractive and allows for tenants of private landlords or social housing schemes to also access the available finance.
Sorry to rob you Peter but I need to pay Paul
The Green Deal is set to be launched later this year and the one flaw in the plan may be the robbing Peter element of the scheme. Yes, you will save money on your energy costs but the repayment is attached to your bill! There is, however, some flexibility in the deal. Apart from affordable repayments, you don’t have to install every energy saving measure that is available. The scheme is set up in such a way as to require a provider or installer to offer impartial advice on a range of measures. The costs for each option should be clear, allowing you to judge the savings and balance them against the cost of installing the features. To an extent you will be robbing poor old Peter, but it is likely to be the most affordable way to reduce energy bills for many people.
One to watch
The Green Deal launch date is set for this year, but has been something of a rather moveable feast. A range of sites can offer information and the Energy Savings Trust site is one that is worth keeping an eye on. The Green Deal is a scheme that makes a lot of sense – especially to those on lower or limited incomes. It can offer the serious opportunity to cut energy costs and stretch the power and heating that little bit further.
For more information on a huge range of energy saving measures, www.buyability.co.uk is a good single source of information. From government grants to installers and more the site offers an excellent overview of the measures available.