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David and Goliath win for small energy firms

May 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

In a “David and Goliath-style battle” a Girton energy proprietor has helped open up the market for smaller businesses in the energy efficiency sector.

The Government agreed to amend its new Green Deal home improvement fund - set up to enable homeowners to make their houses more energy efficient - after Peter Thom submitted a FOI request which revealed British Gas were securing more than 95 per cent of the Government’s Green Deal cash back vouchers, leaving small installers out in the cold.

Ministers announced a bold new package of measures on May 1, known as the Green Deal home improvement fund, in a bid to revive the widely criticised Green Deal, launched in January last year.

The new fund will offer £1,000 for people installing boilers and insulation, and £500 for anyone who installs energy efficiency measures within 12 months of moving into a property.

“Peter Thom of local Heating and Energy Efficiency company Green Heat Ltd, in Girton, highlighted to Government that the Green Deal was supporting the big 6 energy suppliers and leaving small installers out in the cold. Picture: David Johnson”

Mr Thom, managing director of heating and energy efficiency company Green Heat Ltd in Girton, says the scheme is also now much fairer.

He said: “The scheme has now been opened up to small installers, it’s a bit of a David and Goliath thing.

“Consumers can now go to their local trusted accredited Green Deal installer and get useful advice and a decent chunk of money.

“Since the beginning of the Green Deal we said to David Cameron and his ministers make the scheme open to small businesses, but in reality all the schemes they set up helped the big energy companies.”

Mr Thom also believes the Green Deal home improvement fund has removed some of the red tape and made the complicated process slightly easier for consumers.

He added: “I wrote to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and asked how many Green Deal vouchers had been issued and which Green Deal provider had issued them, particularly for boilers.

“They wrote back to me saying they couldn’t tell me. In August last year I found out British Gas were securing 95 per cent of the cash back vouchers.

“The DECC then agreed to hold a mini consultation and later agreed to change the scheme.

“This is great news for small installers and householders and it is pleasing that the Government has at long last listened to our concerns and acted in such a positive way.”

From June 1, residents will be able to get up to £7,600 back through the new Green Deal home improvement fund.

The scheme helps people to install energy efficiency measures such as solid wall insulation and new heating systems by providing them with money back on the contributions they make towards improvements.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “Faulty boilers, draughty windows and insufficient insulation all cause properties to leak hundreds of pounds every year. But advice and support through the Green Deal can help put a stop to this.

“By installing energy saving improvements, families across the country can enjoy the benefits of warmer, more energy efficient homes and lower bills.”

Girton company Green Heat Ltd have won numerous awards for their environmental work and are regarded as experts in saving energy and reducing fuel bills.

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Government makes positive response following Freedom of Information Request

May 2nd, 2014 · No Comments

Peter Thom of Heating and Energy Efficiency company Green Heat Ltd highlighted to Government that the Green Deal was supporting the big 6 energy suppliers and leaving small installers out in the cold.

Following a FOI request that confirmed that British Gas were securing over 95% of Green Deal cash back vouchers, the Government agreed to amend the scheme. Attached is a copy of today’s press release from the Department of Energy & Climate Change detailing the changes which come into effect on the 1st June 2014.

There is £120million available this financial year for householders to improve the energy efficiency of their homes with grants of up to £7600 in the new Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, but unlike the old scheme, householders can deal direct with their trusted local accredited Green Deal Installer and do not have to get tied up in the red tape and added costs of the energy suppliers or Green Deal Providers.

A valid Energy Performance Certificate or Green Deal Report will be required and two of the 12 listed improvements will have to be completed.

Eg: Installing a new mains gas condensing boiler with flue heat recovery will provide a grant of £1000 with an added £500 if the property has been bought within the last 12 months. Yes, that’s £1500 off of a replacement boiler.

Peter Thom, Managing Director of Girton based Green Heat Ltd said “This is great news for small installers and householders and it is pleasing that Government has at long last listened to our concerns and acted in such a positive way.”

For further information contact Peter Thom on 01223 277278 or mobile 07850 277278

Notes to Editors:

Peter Thom has worked in the industry for nearly 50 years and is MD of Girton based Energy Efficiency Company Green Heat Ltd,
and have won numerous awards for their environmental work.
Green Heat are accredited Green Deal Assessors and Green Deal Installers and provide Energy Performance Certificates and Green Deal Reports
And are highly regarded as leading experts in saving energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and fuel bills and making homes more comfortable.

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Green Deal has too much red tape

February 13th, 2013 · No Comments

Will the Green Deal help to generate work for small installation businesses? Peter Thom, founder of Green Heat and member of the IDHEE Executive Council, argues that the amount of unnecessary bureaucracy means only big national companies are likely to benefit. Here he tells PHAM News why he has become disillusioned with the Government backed energy saving scheme.

The Green Deal is now up and running, but you’re unhappy with the way the scheme has been set up. Why’s that?
“Basically, there’s far too much red tape and unnecessary and expensive inspection regimes which means that only a small number of installation companies are likely to want to have anything to do with it. Initially, and it was on the DECC website, if you were Gas Safe registered you were deemed to comply with PAS2030 (the accreditation installers need in order to participate in the scheme). But now that’s changed.”

Do you know why that decision was made?
“I’m told that the certification bodies voted for it, but of course they would, wouldn’t they? It’s in their interest. If you want to get installers involved with this then you’ve got to go with the systems that are already in place. The changes have all been about money, there’s no other possible justification.
“The Government has broken its promises to support small businesses. I had a meeting with Energy Minister Greg Barker, about 14 months ago now, on this very issue about small businesses having a role to play in the Green Deal. He gave his assurance then, and has many times since, that they really want small businesses to engage with this, but the reality is quite different.”

So what’s involved if an installer wants to become a Green Deal advisor?
“To be an advisor you have to get a qualification, and it’s a three day course which costs around £1500. You then have to complete a portfolio, and the learning hours to complete this course is set under National Occupational Standards at 280 hours. Which is seven weeks. If you then add the cost of lost revenue to a business you’re probably looking at around £12,000, plus the cost of the course.
“But once you’ve done all that, met all the standards and got your certificate, you can’t go on any lists to tell anyone that you’re a Green Deal advisor. That’s because you then have to be employed by a Green Deal assessor organisation. They’ve put another level of bureaucracy in! You can’t be an independent advisor, which I think is outrageous.
“So I’m now accredited to be a Green Deal advisor, but I can’t market my services as an individual. The rules don’t allow it. I have tried to get DECC to simplify it for the poor old public, because I think the consumer is going to be totally confused.”

What’s to stop a Green Deal advisor also setting themselves up as an assessor organisation?
“We could be an assessor as well, but it’s another layer of red tape and we would probably have to employ two people in an office just to move the paper around. The way the management systems have been set up is that it is a paper chase. It either means you’ve got to devote a lot of time to it or employ more administration staff to do the extra work, and not many small businesses are in a position to do that.”

Green Deal advisors are meant to be impartial when they provide homeowners with a survey. Can you see that working?
“If I went in to a property with my Green Deal advisor, charging the homeowner £150, I might offer to give that customer £150 back if they buy a boiler from me. But if I say that, I’ve broken the rules. It’s going to be impossible to police.
“There are people out there doing free surveys, because it’s a free and open market, but if you’ve spent £13,500 to get your accreditation then you can’t do it for free. It’s not a level playing field. Unless you’re a big organisation, you can’t offer it for nothing. And the only reason an installer is going to offer advice for free is if they’re going to get some business out of it. So either way you cut it, it’s not going to be impartial.”

You say that the cost of inspections are too high for the installer, but what sort of cost are we talking about?
“The Green Deal accreditation bodies want to come out and inspect every single measure that you’re going to want to get accredited for and charge you for the privilege of doing it. So, let’s say that I want to get accredited for gas boilers, then I decide that I want to get accredited for oil boilers. They’ve got to come out and see an oil boiler job. The same with heating controls and flue gas heat recovery – even if the flue gas heat recovery device is built into the boiler. They’ve still got to see it, even if there’s nothing to look at!
“There are currently 45 approved measures in the Green Deal and all of these have to be inspected by the certification bodies who generally charge about £300 per half day inspection; multiply this by the number of measures and lost revenue during these inspections and you’re talking about serious money, which small businesses just don’t have.”

As well as the number and cost of inspections, would you also argue that PAS2030 is an unnecessary obstacle for installers?
“All PAS2030 does is pull together the British Standards, the Codes of Practices and the Building Regulations that we in the heating industry already work to. There is nothing new in PAS2030 at all.
“We’re already an over regulated industry, but I suppose the challenge is to find a system that suits lots of different trades, including the insulation and glass and glazing sectors. There are some civil servants who view the Green Deal as a whole house makeover and individual industries are seen as just part of the whole. We don’t see it that way, because very few people do a whole house makeover. Most homeowners will just want to pay for those jobs that need to be done.
“PAS2030 is being re-written and you’ll be able to download the document, which runs to about 200 pages, for £75. PAS is a publicly available standard, but I’m told that anyone who wants to be accredited under the Green Deal will need to purchase a copy of this from BSI so that they can demonstrate compliance. That’s what we’re up against. It’s a gravy train.”

How optimistic are you that the Green Deal will work in terms of incentivising consumers to invest in energy efficiency measures?
“There are bits of the Green Deal that can be made to work, but I think less than 15% of properties will take it up – and that’s a much smaller market than the Government is hoping for.”

Do you think that the launch of the cashback will be more attractive to homeowners than taking out a Green Deal loan?“
Yes, because once you start talking about 7% interest rates, it’s expensive money. That said, if your boiler has packed up, and you’re sitting there shivering, and you’ve got no money in the bank to pay for it, the Green Deal could represent the only option. But I would suggest that if people have got money to pay for these measures in the bank, there’s no reason to be tied down to a loan on the property.”

You might be disillusioned, but will you still look to participate in the Green Deal?
“Well, I think we’re just going to have to bite the bullet. At Green Heat we’ve been in business for 23 years and all the work we do is about assessments and energy efficient heating installations. The Green Deal is the Government’s plan ‘A’ and there’s no plan ‘B’. So we’ve got to be in it.
“We’re very pro Green Deal. We’re not against it, but we’re highlighting the bits where it needs to be improved, because we really want to make it work. As it stands, the amount of carbon created by all the bits of paper that we’re moving about, together with all the people driving around the country inspecting installations, will probably negate any carbon savings that could be achieved.”

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Can we trust our political leaders?

June 9th, 2011 · No Comments

The heating industry is predominantly made up of small businesses, including sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.  The people that run these businesses are the heart of our industry and have a wealth of experience and have been the main drivers of innovation.

I am therefore really pleased that leading politicians from both sides agree with me that small businesses will help to drive us out of recession and into economic recovery but this will need the full support of Government.

Prime Minister David Cameron says: “Britain’s small businesses are one of the Country’s greatest assets. Their success is absolutely vital to delivering the jobs and growth on which the future of the economy depends. And the Coalition Government is determined to do everything we can to get behind them”

Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband says: “There is no question that small business will be the engine that drives our economic recovery. In the year ahead I will stand up for small businesses and Labour will hold the Conservative led Government to account for their economic strategy that risks damaging jobs and Britain’s growth prospects”

From these very fine and supportive words you would think that we had the full support of these politicians but the reality is very much different and extremely worrying.

Last year we saw the introduction of the much awaited Boiler Scrappage Scheme which was a huge success mainly due to Government and Industry working together to develop, launch, promote, and implement the scheme. It was under funded with only £50million of the requested £300million being made available and this was all allocated and the scheme closed after just 81 days. The result was that 125,000 “A” rated boilers were sold to displace these inefficient “G” rated boilers together with upgraded heating controls, new hot water cylinders and some solar panels. In carbon saving terms this would be about a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide which is significant.

A year later and we now have a new coalition Government saying all the right things and getting some good headlines about being the “Greenest Government” ever, but has anything been done to substantiate this claim?

Plan “A” is the Green Deal and there does not appear to be a plan “B”. This was initially launched as an insulation programme but following much lobbying from the heating industry this should now be extended to heating and hot water measures. Details of the Green Deal are being debated in Parliament as part of the Energy Bill and it is hoped that the scheme will be introduced in the autumn of 2012 but it could be much later than that due to the amount of legislation and complex detail.  To help the process the Government have set up 4 Green Deal forums to discuss the issues with industry groups, these are:

Installer Accreditation & Qualification Forum
Capacity & Innovation Forum
Maximising Energy Efficiency in Housing Forum
Green Deal Advice Qualification and Accreditation Forum

There are about 20 people on each of these forums to represent the views of all interested parties and the heating industry has managed to secure 3 of these places with representatives attending from the Heating and Hot Water Task Force and the Heating & Hot Water Industry Council. However, when I asked Government who was representing the views and concerns of the small installer I was told that there were 3 heating installers. To my surprise these are British Gas, EAGA and Mark Group, who are 3 of the largest contractors in the Country. So bearing in mind the fine words being said by the Prime Minister and the leader of the labour party are we able to trust our political leaders? Reality would suggest not and I do have some strong reservations about the way the Green Deal is being set up to what appears to be a scheme not to help the small installer who could well be left out in the cold.

This leads me to believe that we cannot just sit around waiting for this so called revolutionary initiative to be launched at some time in the future when other people have decided on the qualifications, accreditation, red tape, and number of hoops we all need to jump through to be able to continue providing professional services to our customers. We are all working harder for less; the cutbacks have put the brakes on consumer spending and confidence and the increase in VAT has compounded this downward trend. The carbon reduction targets are still there and fuel prices are continuing to rise, I have therefore written to The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne suggesting that VAT on professionally installed boilers and also flue heat recovery is reduced to 5% in line with heating controls, insulation and solar to provide an immediate stimulus to the market. This will not only protect and create jobs but will also help to reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions. This will provide a similar discount on a boiler installation to that provided by the Boiler Scrappage grant but with no additional administration. I have also suggested that this should be initially for a set period of time (2 years) subject to review to help encourage people to take action sooner rather than later.

A positive response would restore some of my faith in our political leaders who currently appear to have very limited ideas apart from grabbing media headlines with no substance..

Support petition @ www.grumble.org.uk

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Peter Thom wins prestigious Green Business award

December 4th, 2010 · No Comments

Peter Thom of Cambridge based Green Heat Ltd was this week presented with the John Chesshire Green Business Award.

This special award recognises the individual who has contributed most to improved energy efficiency over the past 2 years and Peter is the first and very proud recipient.

The Green Business awards were held at the Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London and were presented by comedian Marcus Brigstocke.

 View PDF of the citation, for further details and photographs please contact Peter Thom on 07850 277278

Green Heat are also celebrating 20 years of helping the environment and last week held a birthday event in Girton as part of Energy Saving Week, photographs of this and the full story are also available.

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Energy giants accused of cashing in on boiler scrappage scheme

April 6th, 2010 · No Comments

Consumers complain of wild variations in quotes for similar work

Some energy companies are ripping off householders using the Government’s boiler scrappage scheme by quoting inflated prices for a new boiler, according to industry experts.

The warning comes as a leading heating engineer says that paying £2,000 to replace a working boiler is “financial madness” and that the scrappage scheme has serious flaws.

The boiler scrappage scheme, launched last month, gives households £400 to replace old boilers with a new, energy-efficient model. British Gas, E.On, nPower and Scottish and Southern have matched the Government scheme by offering an additional £400 discount. But some householders hoping to claim £800 off the cost of a new boiler have complained that British Gas is quoting far higher figures than independent engineers.

Peter Thom, of Green Heat, the heating engineer, says: “The energy suppliers are top-loading the price and then offering an £800 discount. A customer I saw in Cambridge received a quote from British Gas of £5,012 for a boiler replacement, which reduced to £4,212 with the £800 discount. Our quotation for exactly the same work and identical boiler was £2,894.”

The boiler scrappage scheme is one of the few government grants that is not means tested, and more than 40 per cent of the vouchers (55,000) have already been taken. That leaves about 70,000 vouchers worth a total of £28 million up for grabs. However, there is still confusion over how the scheme works and whether it is worth paying for a replacement boiler.

Charlie Mullins, of Pimlico Plumbers, another heating engineer, says: “What is the point of replacing a boiler in perfectly good working order? It is financial madness. New energy-efficient boilers are not built to last like the old models — if you get ten years out of them, you’ve done well. We often have to replace boilers that are about six years old.”

Times Money reader Pearl Lawrence, from Wimbled, southwest London, obtained three quotes to install the same Valliant boiler this week. British Gas quoted £3,474, nPower quoted £2,400 — both of these include the £800 discount — and Pimlico Plumbers quoted £1,979, including the Government’s £400 discount. The 62-year-old says: “My boiler is 16 years old so I’ve been meaning to get it replaced before it breaks down. But I was shocked at how much British Gas wanted to charge.”

Many householders, anxious to avoid cowboy plumbers, are likely to choose a trusted brand such as British Gas or another energy supplier. However, it is worth obtaining at least three quotes, including from independent engineers, before agreeing to any work. Research from Which? last year found that British Gas charged up to twice as much as the cheapest independent engineer for the same job.

A spokeswoman for British Gas says: “We have not increased our prices and they are actually lower now than they were 12 months ago, as we’ve been working with manufacturers to ensure a good deal for customers. The cost of a boiler will vary based on the customer’s home and lifestyle.”

The Energy Saving Trust (EST), which is running the scheme for the Government, receives 5,000 inquiries a day about scrapping boilers. It says that replacing an old G-rated boiler with an A-rated condensing boiler could save up to £235 a year in heating costs, if the boiler lasts 12 years. Old boilers convert 60 per cent of fuel into heat, compared with at least 90 per cent for condensing boilers.

However, Mark Todd, of energyhelpline, the comparison website, says: “Consumers should be aware that the savings come in the long term. The cost of a new boiler is £2,000-£3,000, so a £400 discount means that customers will still need to pay £1,600 to £2,600. With a saving of £200 a year on energy bills, it will take those signing up 8-13 years to break even, when it will probably be time for a new boiler.”

Critics say that the Government is pushing the boiler scheme to meet carbon-reduction targets, boost employment and raise revenue. Manufacturing and installing the new boilers could earn more than £300 million for the heating industry, which has been hit hard by the collapse in housebuilding. And with the average VAT on a new boiler at £437, the Government stands to make £65 million in tax from the scheme, meaning a net revenue gain of about £5 million.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change says: “VAT would be applicable whether a householder changed their old boiler now or whether they leave it to break down and then replace it.

“The scheme encourages people to replace old, inefficient boilers sooner, meaning that household energy bills will be permanently reduced and emissions will be cut.”

To qualify for the boiler scrappage scheme, households need to have a working G-rated boiler, which means it is likely to be more than 15 years old and gas-fired, with a permanent pilot light. Applicants arrange a quote for a new boiler. The householder pays the installer, then claims £400 back from the EST, which should be paid within 25 days. Crucially, householders aged under 60 can apply only if the existing boiler works, while boilers belonging to the over-60s do not have to work.

Conversely, the scheme has also been criticised for not going far enough, particularly as many of the poorest households will still not be able to afford a new boiler.

Dave Timms, of Friends of the Earth, says: “The scheme is pathetically small — it will reach only 125,000 households when the UK has more than four million inefficient G-rated boilers.”

Grants of up to £3,500 for a new boiler are available for those on some benefits in England under the Government’s Warm Front scheme. It is worth checking if you are eligible before applying for the scrappage scheme. Warm Front, however, does not allow householders to shop around for the best quote. As a result, if Eaga, the Warm Front contractor, charges more than £3,500 for the work the customer must pay the difference.

Householders have complained that Warm Front engineers also appear to charge too much, knowing that they can always get up to £3,500 of government money from the job. Again, it is worth arranging an independent quote yourself to compare costs.

If you are considering buying a new boiler, check that your installer is registered with the Institute of Domestic Heating and Environmental Engineers at idhee.org.uk or the Heating & Hotwater Industry Council at centralheating.co.uk. Both sites allow you to find a qualified engineer in your local area. By law, all engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register — you can check at gassaferegister.co.uk.

You may also want to research boilers before you buy. Last year Which? found that Vaillant and Worcester boilers are the most reliable, with Keston boilers receiving the lowest customer satisfaction.

Which? also found that 92 per cent of members who used an independent installer were satisfied with the process, compared with 84 per cent who used British Gas. For more information go to which.co.uk/boilers.

More information on the boiler scrappage scheme is available from the EST at est.org.uk or by calling 0800 512012. To find out if you qualify for Warm Front, go to warmfront.co.uk or call 0800 3162805.

Case study: ‘Green Heat was still better value’

John and Susan Edwards from Cambridge replaced their 26-year-old boiler last month. Mr Edwards, 62, said: “British Gas quoted £5,477, but we went with Green Heat who quoted £5,033. This included a new kitchen heater worth £400 and a replacement bathroom radiator, which was not included in the British Gas quote.”

The Edwards’s got their quotes in November, before the scrappage scheme was announced. The cost of the work will, therefore, be £4,633 after they have received their £400 voucher, which they are still waiting for 26 days after they sent off the paperwork to the Energy Saving Trust.

The cost was high because they replaced their G-rated boiler in the kitchen with a new Worcester boiler in the loft.

Although the British Gas quote did not include any discounts under the boiler scrappage scheme, it did include various other discounts worth £1,050, including £300 for a boiler older than 15 years, a “point of sale” discount of £100, a Warm Front rebate of £300, and a winter sale discount of £350. “Green Heat was still better value,” Mr Edwards said.

Questions to ask your boiler installer

Why has an installer recommended a particular boiler? Will they receive a commission or manufacturer reward from the sale of a particular boiler?

How often should the boiler be serviced?

Is there a warranty and what will it cover?

Is the quote the final cost or is there a chance that extra costs could be added?

How long will the installation take?

Will they need to change any pipe work?

Will the system need to be power flushed?

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The great scrappage scheme heist

April 6th, 2010 · No Comments

Energy giants are profiteering from Labour’s green boiler plans with higher charges

Some of Britain’s largest energy suppliers are cashing in on the government’s boiler scrappage scheme by levying sky-high charges and effectively cancelling out the benefit.

Under the scheme, the government puts £400 towards the cost of replacing a Grade-G boiler, and many firms claim to match this with a further £400 discount. However, British Gas, for example, which last week posted a 58% rise in profits — hitting a record £595m — has been charging significantly more for replacement boilers than local independent suppliers, rendering the scrappage vouchers worthless.

Although British Gas says its prices have fallen 10% since last year, customers are still paying much more — as much as £2,800 for a job that would cost £1,600 through an average local installer, according to figures based on a study by Which?, the consumer group. This is assuming an £800 discount from British Gas, compared with a £400 discount from the smaller firm.

Peter Thom, of Green Heat, a heating engineer, said customers who had first gone to British Gas for a quote were offered deals costing about £1,000 more than his company charges — completely cancelling out the value of the scrappage voucher. In one case, the difference was £2,000. “People may want to go for a better-known firm but they don’t necessarily offer the cheapest service,” he said.

A British Gas spokesman said: “We’ve been working with manufacturers to ensure a good deal for customers as well as improving our processes to ensure we can offer good value in a very competitive market. Customers know they can trust us and our after-sales care.”

Consumer groups are also angered by the fact that, despite a 60% reduction in wholesale energy prices since their peak in summer 2008, suppliers have cut standard prices by less than 10%.

Scottish Power, which announced an 8% increase in profits last week, last cut bills in March 2009, and by only 7.5% for gas and 3% for electricity. Others such as Eon, EDF and Npower have not yet passed on cuts for gas, having raised rates by as much as 40% in 2008.

British Gas, which cut its gas rates by 7%, is the only provider to reduce its standard rates this year. Meanwhile, the energy regulator estimates that companies have boosted profits by some 40% to £105 per household during the winter — the coldest for 30 years.

An Ofgem spokesman said: “Ofgem’s analysis clearly shows that there is scope for companies to pass on recent falls in wholesale energy costs to consumers and this has been borne out by British Gas’s recent price cut. Other suppliers would be foolish not to pass on this reduction to consumers.”

Some smaller players are, however, beginning to push through cheaper deals on to the market.

First Utility, a relatively new entrant into the retail energy market with about 40,000 customers, now offers a dual-fuel tariff for an average £889 a year with its variable iSave version 3 rate. The best deal from British Gas is Websaver 6, which costs £899.

Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary, has called on all the major energy suppliers to cut bills as soon as possible. It comes as households face high costs following the unusually cold winter.

Here we offer advice on scrappage and how to make the most of the new energy price war.

1 SCRAPPAGE Although British Gas and other suppliers may charge more, it is worth getting a quote from them and then comparing it with local independent providers.

Check your installer is registered with the Institute of Domestic Heating and Environmental Engineers (idhee.org.uk) or the Heating & Hot water Industry Council (centralheating.co.uk). Both websites will locate a qualified engineer in your area.

The boiler scrappage scheme gives households £400 to replace old boilers with a new, energy-efficient model. British Gas, Eon, Npower and Scottish and Southern have matched the government scheme by offering an additional £400 discount. To qualify for scrappage, households must have a working G-rated boiler, which is likely to be more than 15 years old and gas-fired, with a permanent pilot light.

Applicants arrange a quote for a new boiler and pay the installer, then claim back £400 from the Energy Saving Trust, which should be paid within 25 days. About half the 125,000 government vouchers have already been allocated.

2 WHICH IS THE CHEAPEST SUPPLIER? The cheapest fixed and variable deals are available from smaller providers. First Utility has the lowest priced deal overall at £889, while Ovo energy, has the cheapest fix at £920 for one year.

Both have early exit penalties, however. First Utility customers will lose a £105 discount paid after 12 months if they leave within this time, while Ovo will charge its dual-fuel customers £60 if they leave within the first 12 months. Remember, though, smaller firms may not have the same level of customer services as some of the larger players. Check comments on consumer forums (moneysupermarket.com/c/utilities/) to get customer experiences.

Scott Byrom, energy manager at moneysupermarket.com, said: “It really isn’t all about price but about getting the best deal and the right product for you.”

If you prefer one of the big suppliers, British Gas has the cheapest deal at £899. Customers are charged £60 if they leave before August.

3 SHOULD I SWITCH NOW?

Joe Malinowski, of comparison site theenergyshop.com says that by moving away from a standard tariff to a direct debit online deal, you can save an average £216 a year. “Customers shouldn’t be waiting for modest price cuts on standard deals, they should get some real savings by going for a discounted tariff.”

If you have switched from a standard deal already, you may want to wait. Mark Todd of energyhelpline.com says he would wait about a month before making a decision. “I expect the other suppliers will cut rates in the next few weeks. Once this happens you will find a better range of tariffs to chose from.”

4 SHOULD I FIX?

Fixed-rate deals levy a set rate per unit of energy used for the duration of the deal. These have traditionally been more expensive but the gap between variable and fixed rates has narrowed.

Todd likes Ovo’s fixed deal, saying it provides the security of a fix for 12 months for an extra £30 a year over the First Utility tariff. “There’s no guarantee that wholesale rates will not rise again,” he said.

POWER DRIVE

Motorists who switch to electric cars will receive a government grant of up to £5,000 from January 2011, the Department for Transport announced last week.

Anyone who buys a fully electric or plug-in hybrid car, which runs on electricity for the first few miles before switching to petrol, will receive 25% off the price — up to a maximum of £5,000 — as part of a £260m green drive.

However, they could struggle to find somewhere to charge up. Although London, Milton Keynes and the northeast will be the first to benefit, with the rollout of 11,000 charging points by the end of 2013, only 2,000 will be installed next year. And only 79% of those will be fast-charge points where drivers can charge their batteries to 80% in 20 minutes.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles said: “It is expected that the majority of people will charge their electric cars at home overnight or at work.”

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Boiler scrappage scheme closed

April 6th, 2010 · No Comments

All 125,000 vouchers have been taken, just three months after the scheme launched

The popular boiler scrappage scheme has come to an abrupt end after less than three months.

The Government scheme gave households £400 to replace old boilers with a new, energy-efficient model. However all125,000 vouchers have now been snapped up and the scheme was closed at 2pm this afternoon.

The move has disappointed heating engineers and environment groups, who were hoping that an extension of the scheme would be announced in Wednesday’s Budget. There are still about four million households with inefficient G-Rated boilers in the UK.

Lord Hunt, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said: “The scheme’s been a great success and is already helping people cut down on their fuel bills. An ‘A-rated’ energy efficient boiler can help save around £200 a year off fuel bills and reduce emissions.

“It has also provided a much needed boost to England’s plumbers and boiler manufacturers, helping to sustain work for the 130,000 installers and up to 25 UK-based boiler manufacturers throughout the economic recovery.”

Householders who have received their vouchers but haven’t yet gone ahead with installation have 12 weeks from the day of issue to claim their £400.

Peter Thom of Green Heat, a heating engineer, says: “We’re very disappointed that the scheme has not been extended. If the Conservatives are voted in we hope they’ll reintroduce the policy.”

British Gas, E.On, nPower and Scottish and Southern have all matched the Government scheme by offering an additional £400 discount. But some householders hoping to claim £800 off the cost of a new boiler have complained that energy suppliers appear to be inflating quotes under the scheme to recoup any ‘discount’.

nPower has already announced that customers with a boiler that is over 10 years old will still be eligible to receive a £400 discount.

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Boiler Scrappage Scheme

January 6th, 2010 · No Comments

Boiler Scrappage to Benefit Jobs, Climate and Bills

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband will today kick start a national scheme to upgrade household heating systems to cut carbon, save money on fuel bills and sustain work for the heating industry.

Up to 125,000 households in England with working “G-rated” boilers can from today apply through the Energy Saving Trust for a voucher which will entitle them to £400 off the price of a new, modern “A-rated” boiler or a renewable heating system like a biomass boiler or a heat pump.

The Government’s Boiler Scrappage Scheme has already triggered some companies to complement, and in some cases match, the offer and it is expected others will follow suit. This will extend the scheme to many more householders and safeguard work for the heating industry. People are advised to shop around to find the best deal which suits them before applying to the Scheme.

The Government’s Boiler Scrappage Scheme will:

  • Help sustain work for the 130,000 installers and over 25 UK-based boiler manufacturers throughout the economic recovery.
  • Save money. A household’s energy bill could be cut by between £200 to £235 a year.
  • Save carbon. Replacing 125,000 G rated boilers should save in the region of 140,000tCO2 per year - equivalent to taking 45,000 cars off the road

The Prime Minister said:

“Today’s announcement will slash household energy bills and carbon emissions while providing an important boost for the British heating industry.  The Government’s new scrappage scheme will help to secure 250,000 jobs across the tens of thousands of small and medium businesses involved in boiler manufacture, sales and installation that form a vital component of Britain’s low carbon economy.  The scheme shows how this Government continues to invest in the British industries and jobs of the future.”

Ed Miliband said:

“The Boiler Scrappage Scheme will save around £200 off heating bills per year for families that are replacing their old boilers, and in total will save the same amount of carbon equivalent to taking around 45,000 cars off the road.

“The Scheme will add to the existing package of Government measures to help householders be smarter about the energy they use, leading to permanently reduced fuel bills and cutting emissions.” 

Fraser Winterbottom, Chief Operating Officer, Energy Saving Trust said:

“We know that people will act on larger energy efficiency measures like replacing boilers when they are both good for the environment and cost effective for them. They also need to be able to trust the claims that are made around energy efficiency measures. The Energy Saving Trust is impartial, can provide this assurance, and can provide information to help people assess whether their boilers are eligible. If you have access to the internet you can go on line to check whether your boiler is G rated or if you prefer, our expert nationwide advice centre staff are also available to advise you over the phone. We are here to help.”  

Roger Webb from the Heating and Hot Water Industry Council, the trade association for the Heating industry said:

“HHIC strongly welcomes the initiative to replace old inefficient boilers.  We have been campaigning diligently for a long time and given the importance of meeting the government’s emission targets this will make a significant difference. Householders are naturally reluctant to replace a working boiler even though it is wasteful on energy and so an incentive to do this is vital. We are delighted that the government is giving the green light to enable householders to replace an old inefficient boiler with a new energy efficient model and by doing so recognising that a new boiler can really improve energy efficiency. The scheme is good on many levels because householders could see a large reduction in their energy bills, the major carbon savings resulting from replacing inefficient products will help climate change and finally for UK Industry and employment because most boilers installed are actually manufactured in the UK.”

Notes to Editors:

  • 1. To find out more about the Government’s Boiler Scrappage Scheme and to register, contact the Energy Saving Trust by visiting www.est.org.uk or calling the advice line on 0800 512 012
  • 2. The Boiler Scrappage Scheme joins the package of Government measures to improve household energy efficiency. These include CERT, an obligation placed on energy suppliers to offer energy efficiency measures to households; the Warm Front scheme, targeted at pensioners and those on qualifying disability or income related benefits, to provide heating and insulation measures which could reduce fuel bills; Decent Homes, a programme to improve the energy efficiency of social housing; CESP, the community energy savings programme funded by an obligation on energy suppliers and electricity generators; and Pay As You Save trials, which are currently being piloted in five areas to test out new ways to finance whole house energy makeovers. In conjunction with the rollout of smart meters and the introduction of cashback for the generation of renewable heat and electricity, Government is helping householders be smarter with their energy use.
  • 3. According to the HHIC, the average cost of a boiler and installation is around £2500.
  1. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is central to the UK Government’s leadership on climate change.  We are pushing hard internationally for ambitious effective and fair action to avert the most dangerous impacts.  Through our UK Low Carbon Transition Plan we are giving householders and businesses the incentives and advice they need to cut their emissions, we are enabling the energy sector’s shift to the trinity of renewables, new nuclear and clean coal, and we are stepping up the fight against fuel poverty. 

Department of Energy and Climate Change

3 Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2AW

Press enquiries +44 (0)300 068 5218 Public enquiries +44 (0)300 060 4000

Textphone +44 (0)20 7215 6740 (for those with hearing impairment)

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Inefficient heating can seriously damage your wealth

November 30th, 2009 · No Comments

We often hear people say that it is expensive to put central heating in or to replace an old inefficient boiler. But it is in fact the reverse as inefficient or non existence of central heating can seriously affect the value of a property.

84% of energy used in the home is for heating and hot water. Older boilers are less than 60% efficient compared to new “A” rated condensing boilers which are over 90% efficient. Replacing an old boiler can reduce your fuel bill by as much as £300 per year.

The Housing Market Research Report produced by Nationwide in 2006 stated that although the cost of installing central heating was about £5000, it would add about £10,000 to the value of the property. Not having central heating detracted 6.8% from the value of the home in 2006, but Nationwide’s 2009 report indicates this has now risen to a 9% reduction in value - this means that the value of a £200,000 property would reduce by £18,000.

The report also suggests that In the future, we could see greater use of local alternative energy sources with government grants available for technologies such as solar power cells, wind turbines and ground source heat pumps. It is too early to assess the impact these might have on property prices, particularly as the payback time can be very long, but they could prove to be value-adding features in the future

While we want warmer homes we have become more aware of fuel costs and also of the increased emphasis on our environmental responsibilities. As a result, households seem to have become increasingly conscious about their energy use. The requirement to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when selling or renting a home now makes it easy to compare the efficiency of different properties. However, even before this, energy efficiency within the housing stock has gradually improved, with the average energy efficiency (SAP) rating for owner occupied properties increasing from 41 to 48, out of a possible 100, between 1996 and 2007. Energy efficiency of homes is also gauged in terms of the A-G ratings familiar from domestic appliances. With British homes amongst the least energy efficient in Europe (Average is E Rated) and responsible for 27% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, there is plenty of room for improvement, especially given the Government’s target to reduce carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

The Energy Saving Trust’s Hidden Value Guide suggests that people will pay over £3000 more for a home that has a good energy efficiency rating compared to one that is not environmentally friendly - The EPC helps demonstrate this. The Guide also confirms that over 80 per cent of people say that running costs of the home are becoming increasingly important and 68 per cent don’t want energy inefficient F or G rated homes.

The message is loud and clear - It makes sound economic sense to stop wasting energy in the home:

  • Energy saving improvements pay for themselves
  • They add significant value to the home
  • Improve comfort
  • Reduce fuel bills
  • And help the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions

Peter Thom, Managing Director of Girton based Green Heat also suggests that that there has never been a better time to replace old inefficient boilers with VAT currently reduced to 15% until the end of the year but will go back to the old rate of 17.5% or even higher. There is also a £300 grant for anyone over 60 which is not means tested and there are all the other financial benefits indicated in this article. Recent “Which” reports also confirm that smaller reputable heating companies, such as Green Heat, will provide a better service than British Gas and be as much as £1000 less expensive for a boiler installation. Green Heat will be celebrating 20 years of helping the Environment and home owners and have won a number of awards including Domestic Heating Installer of the Year in 2001 and 2009 and the Gas industry Energy Efficiency Award 2009. We have also been short listed for the CORGI Green award and the Green Installer award 2009.

Green Heat provides competitively priced gas and oil boiler installations and also Energy Performance Certificates for Home owners and Landlords and can be contacted on:

 01223 277278 or www.greenheat.uk.com

Further information can be found on www.G2Action.org which is a dedicated website launched in the Houses of Parliament earlier this year to show people why and how to improve their homes from being rated “G” towards “A”.

November 2009

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