Govern­ment green deal could give homes a warmer glow

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Sharon Dale

THE Govern­ment’s En­ergy Bill, which in­cludes a pro­posed Green Deal for house­hold­ers, land­lords and busi­nesses, had it first read­ing in the House of Com­mons this week.

The Deal aims to fund en­ergy ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments to prop­erty, with­out the bur­den of up-front costs.

So own­ers will be able to ap­ply for Green Deal fi­nance for in­su­la­tion and other ef­fi­ciency mea­sures and the bor­row­ings will be payable over a set time frame of up to 25 years.

The pay­ments will be at­tached to the en­ergy bill at the prop­erty, rather than to the in­di­vid­ual.

So when you sell on the bricks and mor­tar you don’t take the debt with you. The obli­ga­tion to pay will in­stead pass to the new oc­cu­pier or bill payer.

The Govern­ment think that most peo­ple who ex­pect to move again in the next 20 years or more are put off pay­ing for en­ergy ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments be­cause they feel costs are only af­ford­able by fac­tor­ing in a long pay­back time. Pass­ing on the cost to sub­se­quent own­ers and oc­cu­piers, they say, will be a big in­cen­tive.

The En­ergy Bill will al­low ten­ants to ask land­lords for rea­son­able en­ergy ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments and to get them from 2015 on­wards. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties will also have the power to in­sist that land­lords im­prove the worst per­form­ing homes.

The Govern­ment says there will be lim­i­ta­tions on how much fi­nance can be at­tached to en­ergy bills, to en­sure that only im­prove­ments that are likely to pay for them­selves over time are in­cluded.

It will also en­sure that new own­ers and ten­ants are made aware of ex­tra Green Deal pay­ments on their en­ergy bills when they take a prop­erty on.

Af­ter fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion and a sec­ond read­ing, the En­ergy Bill is ex­pected to be im­ple­mented to­wards the end of 2012.

A whole Green Deal in­dus­try could grow on the back of the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion and there are al­ready calls for reg­u­la­tions to pre­vent cow­boy in­stall­ers tak­ing ad­van­tage.

Cam­paign­ers are also call­ing for low in­ter­est rates for Green Deal pack­ages.

The UK Green Build­ing Coun­cil wel­comed the pro­posed new leg­is­la­tion but said there were still ma­jor chal­lenges to over­come.

Paul King, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the UK Green Build­ing Coun­cil says: “This puts en­ergy ef­fi­ciency at the top of the agenda, which is a ma­jor achieve­ment,

“Un­for­tu­nately, hop­ing that the Green Deal will sim­ply catch on is very op­ti­mistic. It’s crit­i­cal that the fi­nance is pro­vided at suf­fi­ciently low in­ter­est rates to make it at­trac­tive for con­sumers and to en­sure they can ac­cess a range of tech­nolo­gies as part of their Green Deal pack­age.

“Cru­cially, house­hold­ers need to be given a clear sig­nal that they will be ex­pected to re­fur­bish their home, ei­ther with fis­cal in­cen­tives that link rates of stamp duty or coun­cil tax to the level of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, or we may have to bite the bul­let and say peo­ple won’t be able to rent or sell their home un­til it meets a min­i­mum stan­dard.”

The Govern­ment has sug­gested 14 mil­lion homes will take up the Green Deal by 2020, but Paul King says: “How will house­hold­ers be in­cen­tivised to un­der­take low car­bon re­fur­bish­ment? Govern­ment has said that pri­vate rented sec­tor land­lords will have to up­grade their prop­erty over time, which is a very wel­come step for­ward. How­ever, sim­i­lar driv­ers are needed in the owner-oc­cu­pied stock. This could in­clude stamp duty based on en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and the in­tro­duc­tion of min­i­mum en­ergy ef­fi­ciency stan­dards at the point of sale. The Green Deal could also ap­ply to non-res­i­den­tial build­ings, but won’t be enough on its own. We need to in­tro­duce min­i­mum stan­dards of en­ergy per­for­mance, based on a roll out of ro­bust Dis­play En­ergy Cer­tifi­cates (show­ing ac­tual en­ergy use in an A-G rat­ing). If a prop­erty doesn’t meet the stan­dard, it must be re­fur­bished be­fore be­ing sold or rented.”

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