Here at Parity, we are getting more and more calls from people that start the conversation with some variation on the theme of “is the Green Deal any good for me?” Given the bad press it’s had over recent weeks and months, you’d be forgiven for thinking that was a pretty easy question to answer, but it’s not quite that simple.
Two major barriers to retrofit have always been that people lack the money to pay the up-front costs; and many don’t want to invest in improvements when they may move home before receiving the full benefit of their investment.
The GD has been designed around these two barriers, and for that reason it will suit many people that are in one or both of those two positions. It will fund (or, in most cases, part fund) work for those that previously lacked access to enough cash to do the work. It will also be good for those who plan to move home within the next few years – particularly important since energy efficiency is rarely fully reflected in property prices.
If you fall into one of those groups, then you should consider the GD. Likewise, if you are a landlord that wants to upgrade one or more of the homes you own while sharing the cost with your tenants, it could be a good option. On the flipside, it’s also a helpful tool for tenants who would otherwise struggle to get their landlords to make their cold and leaky homes warmer and cheaper to run.
For all these groups, the GD financing mechanism is the key, but care should still be taken with the advice process. As an assessment company you may think we’re bound to say this, but GD assessments aren’t very robust, especially in how they deal with occupancy (how you actually use your home – which is a big driver of what energy-saving measures will suit you).
They’re also not going to work well for complex properties, and particularly for old/heritage properties. In these circumstances, a GD assessment may still be necessary to help you get access to the finance, but it’s worth considering getting some more detail advice (like on of our Masterplans!) to help you pick the right measures for your home.
Another issue with the GD is that the assessment is centred around a financial driver, the Golden Rule. This means that if you have other objectives other than saving money – for example reducing emissions, or making your home warmer – then it might not identify the right measures. If you fit into that category, again you could consider a GD assessment alongside something a bit more detailed that will account for your particular objectives.
Lastly, on the finance mechanism, it is worth remembering that personal finance is cheaper than ever. Extending your mortgage, getting a personal loan, or even using your savings might represent a better deal for you*, especially if you are planning to stay in your home for a while. Not using the GD will lose you some of the protections the scheme offers, but as well as offering a lower interest rate you’ll probably avoid some of the administration costs that are likely to inflate the prices paid by GD customers. And you can still look out for installers that are GD accredited, have good reviews on rating websites (Rated People, MyBuilder, etc.), or are recommended by respected organisations such as Superhomes.
In summary, don’t write the Green Deal off. For some it will be very helpful. And it will improve over time as costs fall and experience is gained. But if you’re keen to get going on your retrofit, you should consider your options, and shop around. There are alternatives, and for many they will offer a much better (and more appropriate) deal.
*please note we are not and would never claim to be financial advisors! If considering taking out a loan, seek the advice of a qualified professional. If you want advice on what energy saving measures to spend that loan on, then you can talk to us!