How to get started with the green deal: my experience
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2013 at 11:37 am
The Green Deal is the government's scheme to encourage people to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, by taking away the barrier of upfront cost. While the government is keen to meet carbon emissions targets, the benefits for the rest of us are also warmer homes, and lower energy bills.
Step one is to get a green deal assessment. This involves a green deal assessor (GDA) coming to your property. They will take detailed measurements as well as talking to you about your energy use. For our three bedroom house this took over two hours.
How do I find a green deal advisor?
You can search online at www.greendealorb.co.uk/consumersearch. You will be presented with a list of Green Deal Assessor Organisations (GDAO) which will range from very large companies (some of the big six energy companies for example) to one-man bands. To make the list as small as possible, put in your postcode. Doing so brings up those that operate in your area - some of them may also actually be local.
For my postcode area (and a few others I just tried) around 45 companies come up out of the total of 276 companies offering home assessments. Choosing between them is almost impossible, as there's no information on the green deal ORB website that helps you differentiate between them. You can click through to their websites, but quite a few don't even have a link from the home page to their green deal services.
(On my search, half of the 10 companies on the first page had a direct link, three had no mention at all, one had a link to a blog trying to recruit assessors, and one a holding page saying new service coming soon. None was based anywhere near Devon.
The most obvious point of differentiation is price - I paid £120 for my assessment from Ampere. British Gas set its rate for an assessment at £99 and quite a few other GDAOs have followed suit. Others are charging more. The green deal advisor (GDA) will get considerably less than the rate that you pay the GDAO.
Other things you may want to look at when choosing include what the core business of the organisation is; whether advisors are employed or contracted; and whether they are independent, or will be expected to sell to you too. We have expanded on this subject in this blog: how to choose a green deal assessor.
I chose Ampere partly because it was the only GDAO based in Devon. The decider was that of the three I contacted, it was the first to assign me an advisor around six weeks after my initial enquiry.
What happens during the green deal assessment?
The advisor will make a detailed inspection of your property, noting down the type of heating you've got, how much (if any) insulation, what kind of windows and doors, and measuring the size of the rooms. They will want to see your energy bills for the past year. They will also ask you a lot of questions about how you use energy. This will include how many hours a day you watch TV, and how many showers and baths your household use a week.
Using this data, they will produce an energy performance certificate (EPC) and occupancy assessment. My advisor was using old fashioned pen and paper, and uploaded the data after he had left, and sent the reports to me. Others use iPads, and generate the reports while they are with you, which would be preferable as it gives you more opportunity to ask questions. They are also expected to give you basic tips as they go round. Mine didn't, as we'd already done most of the basics.
The green deal advice report
The EPC measures fuel cost per square meter of floor area, based on standard assumptions of occupancy rates, assumed heat and electricity use and average fuel costs. If you already have an up to date EPC, you won't need to have another one done. The occupancy report is tailored to how you actually live in the property, and your real energy usage. It will make recommendations of measures you can take to save energy in your home.
The recommended measures come in a table with indicative costs, typical savings over 3 years, and symbols to tell you if it's available with green deal finance. A green tick indicated that it should meet the golden rule. An orange tick means that it can be part financed with the green deal, and you will have to pay the balance upfront. While the recommended measures will tend to be the same on both reports, the estimated savings will vary if your actual energy usage is different from the average.
The measures recommended for my house were floor insulation and a roof-mounted wind turbine, which I found rather bizarre. Roof-mounted wind turbines have been thoroughly discredited, so I am surprised that they are on the approved measure list. Floor insulation for our draughty living room is something I've been considering, and am going to get quotes for. However, it's not clear if the quote is for all the downstairs rooms, or just for the living room.
What surprised me most, is what's not on the report. My house is chalet bungalow style, and so some of the upstairs rooms are in the roof and not cavity wall insulated. The advisor designated them as 'room in roof' expressly so that he could log the lack of insulation, but no measures to internally insulate them have been recommended. This is disappointing, as the roof rooms are acknowledged as inefficient in the EPC report below. I had hoped that they might qualify for ECO funding under the hard to treat designation. But it seems not.
After you've got your EPC and green deal advice report, and had time to digest it, you can contact any green deal providers that cover your area and ask them to quote for the job. Depending on which GDAO you used for your assessment, your advisor may ask you before they start the assessment if, once it is finished, they can take off their advisor hat and put on a sales hat. If you say yes, they will try and sell you the recommended measures. Our advice would be to shop around, and to get more than one green deal provider to quote. It seems that not all the providers cover all the measures yet.By Cathy Debenham
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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