With the countdown to the long awaited launch of the government’s flagship Green Deal scheme underway, Richard Weetman from utility metering specialist Orsis (UK) Ltd outlines why the hotly debated initiative could leave consumers and businesses out in the cold.
The concept of the Green Deal, which will launch in 7 major UK cities with a £12 million investment on January 28, appears to achieve all round ‘win wins’ on initial examination. Not only is it accessible to everyone, independent of income, it also boasts a golden rule which ensures the amount saved on bills will exceed the costs of installing the energy saving measures.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change is particularly keen that householders focus on addressing problems with their cavity and solid wall insulations and, in essence, householders pay off the cost of the installations through the savings they make on their gas and electricity bills. ORSIS is wholeheartedly behind this scheme, recognising that the government is allowing the industry to decide what measures will be effective, and encouraging householders to improve their homes and save energy.
So what could possibly be the downside of a scheme which enables consumers and businesses to install more energy efficient boilers, draught proofing or wall insulation without the upfront cost? As Richard says, “The golden rule is all very well in principle, but how will the green deal installer or the consumer know that they are in fact, saving more on their energy bills than the cost of the measures installed?” He believes the major flaw is the Green Deal’s failure to address the transparency of the changes in consumption as a result of energy saving measures.
“In our experience energy saving measures rarely work effectively in isolation – they need to be linked to both monitoring and effective education about energy use. As an extreme example, installing the latest efficient gas boiler is pointless if you have the heating on all day at a high temperature and keep the windows open. The only way to ensure that the consumer is using less energy is to monitor their usage closely, so that both the installer and the householder can see the benefits the measures are bringing, and identify areas where further savings can be made.”
The Green Deal is the first step in the government’s commitment to reducing energy consumption, and in the current climate of rising bills, it is essential that consumers take advantage of a scheme which makes it cost effective to improve the efficiency of their homes. They need to believe that this scheme works, and they will want proof that it does!
Energy secretary Ed Davey champions the deal as providing unprecedented choice for consumers seeking to improve their homes and make them more energy efficient, but until consumers are able to track real time usage of energy – a measurement which is even more critical in times of austerity – we fear the green deal could be nothing more than hot air!