Government is set to breathe new life into its ailing Green Deal with the launch of a new Home Improvement Fund which will offer thousands of pounds to homeowners implementing energy efficiency improvements.
From June, householders in England and Wales will be eligible for a rebate of up to £7,600 on the contributions they make towards energy-saving measures, opening up the market for SMEs in the energy efficiency sector.
The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, which also applies to private and social landlords, will offer up to £6,000 for installing solid wall insulation; and £1,000 for installing a further two measures from an approved list which includes cavity wall insulation, double-glazing and condensing gas boilers.
An additional £500 will be made available to those that implement any measures within 12 months of moving into a property, and up to £100 will then be refunded upon a Green Deal Assessment.
“The best way for households to take control of their energy bills is to use less energy,” said Energy and Climate Change secretary Ed Davey.
“Faulty boilers, draughty windows and insufficient insulation all cause properties to leak hundreds of pounds every year. But advice and support through the Green Deal can help put a stop to this.
“By installing energy saving improvements, families across the country can enjoy the benefits of warmer, more energy efficient homes and lower bills.”
The average annual bill saving from installing solid wall insulation in a three-bed semi-detached house is £270, while savings from other measures such upgrading a boiler can knock around £100 off a customer’s bill.
“The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is another way government is making it simpler and cheaper for people to stay warm and improve their homes,” said Climate Change minister Greg Barker.
“I want households across the country to benefit from more energy-efficient homes and reduced bills through the Green Deal and that is what the new home incentive fund will do.”
The Green Deal has seen slow uptake since its launch in 2012 and government has been heavily criticised for not taking more action to improve its progress. The number of completed Green Deal plans hit 883 in February, far lower than the initial expectations of energy minister Greg Barker; to have more than 10,000 plans signed by the end of 2013.
This latest package of measures has been welcomed by the industry.
“The fact that installers can now get access incentives means they can help their customers and quicken the pace of uptake,” said Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust.
“It’s crucial households are made aware of these financial incentives without forgetting to sell them the benefits: warmer, healthier homes that are cheaper to run.”
The UK Green Building Council echoes the Energy Saving Trust’s view, but the Council’s director John Alker insists that it isn’t “problem solved” for the troubled Green Deal.
“The scheme’s initial cash-back went unspent so it’s important history doesn’t repeat itself,” said Alker. “While this new package will certainly help, government still needs to go further to make energy efficiency more attractive to consumers.”