Energy efficiency In this feature

l Green deal l feed-in Tariffs l renewable heat Incentive Going green? Once part of the greenest government ever, the Conservatives continue to alter schemes intended to cut utility bills and save the planet. kate urell and lee finch give an update on those still in play that could cause consumer confusion T The complexity of these schemes, and their interaction with each other and the Green Deal, can confuse consumers and increase the risk of mis-selling he Green Deal is a major government programme to improve the energy efficiency of homes in the UK. Green Deal plans are an important element of this programme. Theplans are unique loans under which households can borrow money to pay for implementing energy efficiency measures. They have two unique qualities: firstly, the loan repayments are the obligation of the person who is the bill payer for the property at that point in time and secondly, the finance is only available if the proposed installation accords with the Golden Rule, which requires that the loan repayments must not exceed the typical savings on energy bills as a result of installing the energy efficiency measures. The Green Deal initially had a troubled life, with bad press and very low uptake after launch, but recent progress has seen weekly plan applications triple over the past year. As a result, trading standards departments may start to see an increase in the number of consumers making contact in relation to this scheme.* The customer journey for Green Deal plans is highly regimented, but potential issues can still arise. The complexity of the scheme is such that few lawyers let alone consumers understand the intricacies. This obviously increases the risk of mis-selling and fraud, and trading standards may have to be active in these areas. However, consideration should also be given to other problem issues, including the proper monitoring of the assessment process, and problems surrounding multiple bill payers and liability for loans (for instance, student houses). green incentives In addition to the Green Deal, the government has launched two other notable green schemes: Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). In essence, FITs are an incentive payment made to small-scale electricity generators a financial inducement for homeowners to fit certified solar panels and wind turbines. The payment made to the homeowner depends on the amount of electricity that they generate; they receive a set sum per unit of electricity. Further, the amount per unit that the homeowner is paid varies wildly and depends on when they signed up for the scheme for example, a homeowner who signed up a number of years ago may receive around 50p per unit compared with 11p per unit for a homeowner who signed up in July 2015. These incentive payments are made for 20 years. On the other hand, RHIs are an incentive payment made by the government to individuals who install certified renewable heat technology, such as biomass boilers or ground source heat pumps. The tariff payable varies according to sign-up date and the particular technology but, unlike FITs, does not usually depend upon the energy or heat produced by the technology. In most cases, a calculation is used rather than having the technology metered. These incentive payments are made for seven years. While these new green schemes can work to the benefit of consumers, they can also create problems for both consumers and trading standards. Most obviously, the complexity of these schemes, and their interaction with each other and the Green Deal, can confuse consumers and increase the risk of mis-selling whether inadvertent orotherwise. Other issues that can arise include disputes relating to the funding of the initial purchase, mismatches between the length of a credit agreement and the term of the incentive scheme, and complaints resulting from a change in a homeowners circumstances. References: *Since this talk was given at CTSI Conference in July, the government has said that, in light of low take-up and concerns about industry standards, no further funding find out more The PowerPoint slides used for the talk will be made available to the Green Deal Finance Company. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said that the decision will not have an impact on outlined here are available from existing Green Deal Finance Plans, or existing Green Deal Home Improvement Fund Gough Square Chambers website. applications and vouchers. So there is still a potential for consumer confusion to arise, and for rogue traders to take advantage of the marketplace. Credits Published You might also like Based on a talk delivered by Kate Urell and Tuesday 29 September, 2015 Satisfaction guaranteed? October 2015 Lee Finch, of Gough Square Chambers, at CTSI Conference in July. Images: Cienpies Design / Shutterstock To share this page, click on in the toolbar