Industry has responded to yesterday’s announcement of a Green Deal Home Improvement Fund with cautious optimism.
The new scheme will help domestic property owners in England and Wales to get up to £7,600 back when investing in energy efficiency measures.
Paul Hardy, managing director of Baxi, called the fund “welcome news”, and said it is something Baxi has been campaigning for. However, he has also expressed reservations. “We were hoping that the new scheme wouldn’t include the same red tape and cost as the wider Green Deal scheme. Unfortunately, the PAS 2030 registration required to become a Green Deal installer is likely to discourage some installers from getting involved,” he said.
“It is of course completely understandable that the government wants authorised installers to carry out Green Deal Home Improvement Fund work, but there are other less costly, less complicated ways for installers’ competence and professionalism to be demonstrated. We hope that we can work with government to make the scheme more accessible to installers – we must remember that they are the ones speaking to homeowners on a regular basis and have the potential to make the initiative a real success.
“That said, the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund should still have a positive effect on the heating market, as at the very least it will create even more awareness about the financial and environmental benefits of upgrading heating systems. This will naturally generate new business leads for installers, whether a customer plans to use Green Deal schemes or not.”
Carrie Young, Ideal Boilers’ head of marketing, similarly welcomed the fund. “This is great news for the industry. Replacing an old gas boiler with an A-rated high-efficiency condensing one with a full set of heating controls, could save people as much as £305 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust,” she said.
“The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund makes it more affordable for householders to improve the efficiency of their homes, and hopefully installers will get extra work as a result – now that’s a win-win.”
However, Ms Young also recognised potential problems. “Installers will know that because of the upfront costs, many people will continue with their low-efficiency system for as long as they can.”
Steven Heath, director of public affairs and strategy at Knauf Insulation Northern Europe, described the scheme as a “much-needed boost”, but voiced concerns over the absence of loft insulation from the list of approved measures.
“Whether as a top-up or complete install, loft insulation is one of the few simple and effective measures that meets the golden rule of Green Deal,” he argued. “To not include this in the measures means we are likely to continue to see boilers installed without cost-effective loft insulation offered to the householder. As a matter of fact, the installation of boilers without addressing insulation was seen as one of several key failures in both the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the existing cash-back schemes.”
According to Mr Heath, solid wall insulation can now receive a £6,000 subsidy without a requirement or cash-back incentive to install loft insulation if it’s recommended. “Once again, we see a government scheme promoting an expensive measure at the individual property level, but ignoring a cost-effective one,” he said.
“The main question is: where incentive packages are offered, will they encourage installers to offer – and homeowners to agree to – a sensible fabric-first multi-measure approach to renovation?”
Moving forward, Mr Heath recommends that government consider the size of the challenge “more seriously”, recognise the problem is a long-term one and start designing policy interventions that match the scope of that task.
“We have long argued that a tax incentive linking the efficiency of the whole property to the amount of stamp duty paid creates more impact than simple cash inducements,” he concluded. “We remain hopeful this will be reflected in the imminent manifestos of all parties.”