The UK government has given more information about its new Green Deal initiative, that aims to make UK homes more energy efficient.
Due to be launched next autumn, it will allow homeowners to finance as much as £10,000 of insulation renovations in order to reduce power consumption. Certified companies will foot the bill for the installation, and property owners will reimburse the loans, with interest, through charges added to their electricity bills.
The scheme will permit householders to repay the funds over a period of up to 25 years and will ensure savings on energy expenses are higher than their repayments. Those who choose to take part in the scheme will have several options to choose from, including double glazing, ceiling and wall insulation, and boiler upgrades for central heating units.
UK Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the Green Deal aimed to upgrade 25 million homes by 2030.
“This is a revolution that will do for environmental efficiency what privatization did for industrial efficiency,” said Barker. “The fact is you should be better off from day one: You will have a better property that is easier to heat. Your fuel bill should be less. This is about unleashing new technologies. We have got to do 14 million homes by the early 2020s, and 25 million by 2030."
Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Asda, Sainsbury’s and British Gas are some of the firms reported to be interested in putting up the funds for the Green Deal, though none have yet committed.
Biggest UK Home Improvement Plan
The government still needs to iron out many details, including legal changes to ensure that companies can only collect the due payments through regulated electricity bills from clients.
The changes to legislation and repayment conditions will be part of the new Energy Bill that is currently pending approval from the UK parliament, expected in July.
The amount of interest paid back to the companies is also still under discussion, with critics predicting high commercial rates.
Barker said the government will take the necessary means to guarantee the quality of energy efficient improvements carried out in homes across the UK. "The Green Deal will be the biggest home improvement program since the Second World War, shifting our outdated draughty homes from the past into the future, so it's vital people can trust it," he said, adding that there would be no repeat of “shoddy workmanship or dodgy technology from [past] government schemes.”
Consumer watchdog Consumer Focus also reiterated the importance of trust and confidence for consumers, underlining how easily the scheme could be undermined by poor service or low standard of installation or supplies.
The Green Deal was originally intended to focus solely on energy efficiency installations, but reports from the Department of Energy and Climate Change suggest it might also include small-scale power generation initiatives like solar panels.
Key Statistics – UK Economy + Energy Consumption (source: CIA World Factbook)
- GDP - $2.19 trillion in 2010 ($2.15 trillion in 2009), 9th biggest in the world.
- Electricity consumption - 345.8 billion kWh in 2007, 12th highest in the world.
- Oil consumption - 1.669 million barrels per day in 2009, 15th highest in the world.
- Natural Gas consumption - 87.45 billion m3 in 2009, 8th highest in world.