Honesty, integrity and transparency.
In an effort to improve the energy efficiency of households nationwide, the UK – along with several public and private companies – have been creating and executing programs and campaigns to assist citizens in optimising their respective household’s energy efficiency. Besides cutting the beneficiaries’ monthly power bills, these grants help keep their houses warm, especially in winter, where heating is the primary cause of increased energy expenses – one program that enabled such grants was the “Green Deal”.
The Green Deal was a program created by the UK government that would offer loans to people so they could install energy-saving measures in their homes. Each applicant who could meet the requirements would be entitled to up to £7,600 in loans. The funds would be used to install one or more energy saving measures such as insulation, roof solar panels, boiler improvements, double glazing units, and so on. The catch was that the savings earned from the measures must outweigh the total cost of the loan, so applicants would have had to install more than one feature. The debt was meant to be compensated in monthly payments through the electricity bill, with a fixed interest rate.
You pay back only what you were predicted to save on bills each month, so there's no NET cost. If your energy bills were £1,000 a year when you applied for a loan, all being well (more on this later), your energy bills PLUS Green Deal repayments (including interest) won't ever be more than that. So there's no net increase in cost, and your home's more efficient.
Repayments are spread over a long term. The homeowner (that's you, unless you move, when it moves to the new owner) pays the money back over 10 to 25 years.
The energy company makes repayments for you. You don't actually repay the loan directly, your energy firm does it for you out of your electricity bills. So, just to hammer it home, that means you should pay at most the same as you did when you took out the loan, until the loan's paid off – then you'll feel the big benefit.
Sounds good, right? So what happened?
According to Martin Lewis, founder and editor of MoneySavingExpert, while the Green Deal sounded like a godsend to those who were looking to install some nifty energy saving systems in their houses, the apparent drawbacks made it “off-putting” to the common citizen. Thus, in 2015 the program had its funding pulled due to poor public engagement.
For starters, the program advertised its main benefit as being a loan, which made it instantly unappealing for potential beneficiaries. After all, taking on more debt isn’t quite the attractive prospect, especially when said debts are for what some may consider non-critical expenses (such as said energy-saving products and measures) as opposed to food, medicine, and other products that are commonly viewed as necessities.
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The Green Deal failed… not because it was bad per se, but rather because it was poorly marketed
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Additionally, this debt was attached to the property, not to the owner, which meant that if he should decide to sell the house while the loan is still in effect, the new homeowner would have to assume the debt and keep paying it off. This measure could paradoxically decrease the property’s value, instead of increasing it like the program was supposed to do.
Third (and most importantly), green doesn’t sell, at least not to the average citizen. People are interested in improving their homes, though not so much in the way of going green. Consider the Home Improvement Program, which was launched shortly after the Green Deal: it was, in essence, the same program, but with a different name. The difference this time around was that public engagement was massive – it turned out to be widely popular and oversubscribed.
We could say that the Green Deal failed miserably, not because it was bad per se, but rather because it was poorly marketed. People simply didn’t know what they were getting into, even though the benefits would far outweigh any debt that would be initially incurred. As Martin Lewis put it: “It was always a great idea that was poorly executed” – and I couldn’t agree more.
Well, yes and no – it depends on a few things.
The Energy Company Obligation scheme was released alongside the Green Deal, and it focused on assisting low-income households, people living in impoverished communities, and those who owned older properties. The ECO itself is backed by the top six energy providers –EDF, E.on, Scottish Power, Npower, SSE, and British Gas. This means that these power companies are under obligation to provide assistance to their customers in finding ways to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This is obviously beneficial for those who live in low-income situations, or those who receive government aid of some kind.
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There are still a number of programs you can look into for assistance in improving your home
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Some local councils may also offer assistance in the installation of double glazing units, although this assistance is means-tested and limited to low income households. Even if you don’t fulfil these two requirements, you might still want to check with your local council if you apply for home improvement assistance anyway (click here to find out more about your local council’s contact details).
If you are within the low-income bracket, there are still a number of loans and grants you can look into for improving your home. These are primarily for loft and wall insulation, or the acquisition of a free water boiler, should yours prove to be faulty or outright broken. Sadly, not many loans and grants cover just double glazing units, mainly because by themselves, they don’t dramatically benefit the customer compared to other measures (or, more specifically, double glazing units in addition to these other measures).
In other words, if you choose to install double glazing windows, you may have to install wall or roof insulation as well if you want to achieve a significant increase in your home’s energy efficiency.
While there are no official (or unofficial) grants specifically just for double glazing windows, there are several ways you may be able to get some sort of discount.
For instance, there are private companies that can arrange up to three quotations from trusted and highly-professional companies for the installation of double glazing units. Since the three companies in question are competing for the best price, you may get up to 70% discount in the total price for the units and subsequent installation. Normally, a double glazing unit job can cost up to £4,500, but you may be able to cut the cost by more than half, given access to the right quotes.
Besides double glazing units, there are also several grants and schemes you might want to look into – after all, double glazing is but a single step in getting your home to being more energy efficient. The good fellows at moneysavingexpert.com have also put together a handy guide on some free energy-saving provisions you can take advantage of (if you fulfil the requirements), all of which could help cut down your energy bill and make your house a bit more comfortable.
Double glazing units are definitely an improvement if you’re looking to cut your energy bills in the long run, and simultaneously keeping your home warm and toasty in the winter, and fresh in the summer heat. The added insulation can also block out annoying external noise if you keep your windows closed, which is an added bonus in my book.
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If you are looking to optimise your home’s energy efficiency, consider all your options before going ahead with the installation of any one in particular
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However, by themselves, double glazing units are seldom as effective as marketed, so you may need to combine them with other energy saving methods, such as wall or loft insulation, to achieve significant results. The aforementioned drawback is the main reason why so few companies deal in double glazing grants – the cost-benefit ratio by themselves is somewhat low compared to other methods.
So if you are looking to optimise your home’s energy efficiency, it can be helpful to consider all your options before going ahead with the installation of any one in particular. In any case, you can’t go wrong with any of them – by using the appropriate types of energy-saving solutions, you get the following benefits:
Pay less in energy bills every month
You’ll also make your home a cosier place
You’ll reduce your carbon footprint and help preserve the environment
Long story short: you can’t go wrong with double glazing and energy saving solutions in general.