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Confusing energy bill

Spring Clean your Energy Bill

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Winter has been and gone and your your energy bills may well have caused your face to contort and your buttocks to clench. Then you see your smug neighbour who has a toasty house with “hardly any heating” he says! Apparently all his home improvements came trumps this winter “practically paying for themselves” he says!

Make it your Spring challenge to improve your home’s energy efficiency so that this time next year you will be sitting there after a snug winter with a little bit extra cash to splash on that Easter break.

We at The Energy Community are here to help. There are now a lot of government schemes and new bits of legislation you can take advantage of so that you can reduce the cost of improvement, or make improvements more financially viable. This post will run through some of them, but if there are any you have heard of and want explaining, or any you think should be added to or removed from our list then just let us know on our facebook, twitter, or on our forum!

Let’s start with the Big One. The Green Deal.

The Green Deal has a solid grounding: you get a loan to to pay for energy saving improvements to your home. You then pay off this loan through savings made to your energy bill. “The Golden Rule” is that your bills should never increase above the usual during the repayment period. During the repayment period you’ll have a warmer and more efficient home. After the repayment period, you will be reaping the benefits in cash form! The Golden Rule is not official (i.e. you still pay for what you use) but more of a guideline.

One thing to mention is that you will pay interest on the loan, and the repayments are added to your monthly bill. The interest rate tends to be slightly higher than that of a bank loan, but your more likely to be accepted onto the scheme and the loan does not follow you if you move property.

There are four stages:

  1. Get a green deal assessment done. This is where someone comes round and assesses how much energy could be saved in your property. This typically costs between £100 and £120, and you can look here for an assessor near you. However, make sure you give “Free Green Deal Assessments *your local council*” a Google before you pay up as there are often local discounts available. Also, try clicking here and doing your own evaluation first to get an idea about what may be suggested to you.
  2. Get a quote from green deal providers. Shop around and choose the one you like best. As with any competitive business you will get different interest rates and different levels of service from each provider.
  3. Get your improvements installed. Your provider will install your energy saving improvements.
  4. Repayments: sit back and relax in your new warmer home, which doesn’t cost you any more money than it did before!

If you have a low household income (below £16’000) then you may well be allowed some free improvements. Just make sure your green deal assessor if they have ECO funding available and if they do, they should sort out any subsidies for you.

It all sounds hunky dory but be warned! If you are a very low energy user, this is probably not for you as the savings you would make are minimal and therefore the amount that you can be loaned is small, which means you can’t get much done. Furthermore, the Green Deal has received some criticism for having typically higher interest rates than other loans, but this is only really the case if you intend to live in your house for the full duration of the loan repayment (up to 25 years).

Also, it’s important to get a good green deal assessor, as if they predict your savings too high, then your bills may be higher than before. This is unlikely though so don’t be too worried!

 

Not keen on the Green Deal? Let’s have a look at the free/cheap insulation schemes around.

Your can get a big discount on boilers, loft and cavity wall insulation through Energy Company Obligations without doing the Green Deal. There are a whole bunch of criteria you need to fulfill though so an easy way to check is by ringing the Energy Saving Trust advice service:

0300 123 1234 (England and Wales),

0800 1422 865 (Northern Ireland)

0808 808 22 82 (Scotland)

How much could you save? It really does depend on your house type and exisiting installations so we don’t want to give you any exact numbers here. It’s likely to be in the hundreds though for an average house.  There are loads of comanies offering these services but a couple of nice looking ones are here and here.

 

How about Smart Meters?

Smart meters are there to help you reduce your energy usage through changing the way you use it. By visualising your energy use, you can see how much you are using and when.

They’re being trialled at the moment, so if you’re keen, ask your energy provider if they can install you one. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait until they are fully rolled out by the government over the next few years.

We at The Energy Community think that Smart Meters are awesome, so if you can get yourself one, do it, and let us know how you find them on our forum here, or tweet us.

Please do get in touch through facebook, twitter or our forum to let us know of any inclusions we could have. If you have local offers, let us know and we’ll put them up somewhere as well!

Would you consider using the Green Deal?

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  • Alex Buckman
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    Alex Buckman
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