The Green Deal has just had its first birthday, and unfortunately it hasn't been such a great year for the UK Government's flagship energy efficiency programme. 

Official figures have revealed that only 626 houses have live Green Deal plans in place, which is nowhere near the 10,000 figures minsters were expecting to be in place. As of December, only a total of 1,612 houses had made plans overall.

While assessments had never really been on the rise, they notably declined by 21% during December, which the government attributed to the Christmas holidays. However several leading green energy groups have spoken out against the Green Deal's poor statistics, stressing that the Government needs to try a lot hard in order for it to succeed.

The Federation of Master Builders has given the first year of the Green Deal a "report card" rating of two out of five, commenting that is has "not achieved the desired results in its first full year, with the majority of SME installers and home owners failing to engage". Chief Executive Brian Berry called the financial package "unattractive to most consumers". He also went on to say how the programme simply doesn't stack up against other high-street money saving alternatives such as loans and credit cards available at more competitive rates. His suggestions to improve the Green Deal were:

"The single most effective measure to kick-start demand would be to reduce the rate of VAT from 20% to 5% on all domestic repair and maintenance work, including energy-efficiency improvements. This would be a real incentive to home owners across the board to think about getting a professional tradesperson in to quote on a variety of repair and maintenance projects."

Meanwhile the UK Green Building Council also had things to say about the figures, calling it a "a wake-up call to the Government" that it is not delivering. Chief Excutive Paul King suggested that the Government must "recognise energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority and be prepared to delve into its purse to make its flagship policy more appealing through stronger incentives and more attractive finance options"

But despite its failings, the Government have announced that they plan to stick by the Green Deal, and believe that although its hard a slow start (to put it lightly) 2014 will definitely be the year it takes off. Climate Change minister Greg Barker "acknowledged" that things hadn't developed the way the government had anticipated at a conference yesterday, he still though its first year had been an "encouraging start".

He also commented that the supply chain was now in place, with more than 125 Green Deal providers at the ready along with 2900 individual advisers and 2300 organistations officially approved to carry out installations. Procedures are also set to be simplified by the newly established Green Deal Working Group, with further alterations and improvements to be announced over the coming weeks.

So will 2014 fare better for the Green Deal? It's too early to say, but if these numbers are anything to go by then it doesn't look like it can do much worse.

Last month the Government announced that they would be making amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations, which deals with energy efficiency in both domestic dwellings and commercial properties. These changes, which will come into effect in April 2014, are designed to bring about a 6% improvement on new-homes compared with the original 2010 standard and a 9% improvement for non-domestic buildings.

So what exactly does Part L cover? The answer is essentially ANY method of providing heat and energy to your household or commercial building. This includes electricity, hot water, heating, wall/loft insulation, lighting and more. The last revision to these regulations was made in 2010, and have since made it so that every dwelling started after the 1st October 2010 must adhere to these new rules. This also stretches to new installations which are moved even slightly after this time.

An example to give it some context: Since 2010 all central heating systems and hot water outlets must be fitted with a thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) to regulate hot water temperatures and keep them no higher than 45°C. A bath fitting before October 2010 would not need one of these, and should the homeowner choose to refurbish their bath without it moving in the room this would continue to apply. HOWEVER if he or she then decided to get a new bath a move where in the bathroom it is fitted, it would then be subject to these new requirements.

Of course the Government's flagship method to bring down the carbon footprint is the Green Deal, which is pushing for more households to adopt renewable energy methods such as solar photovoltatic, solar thermal and underfloor heating. However one other method they are trying is through ECO, which stands for Energy Company Obligation. If you're on certain benefits (visit here for the full list), are retired/disabled/have children and own or rent your home, you could find you are entitled to all or part of the cost towards boiler repair/replacements and loft/cavity wall insulation.

What will play a significant part in these new changes however is lighting efficacy. The revised Part L will include a new method for measuring lighting efficiency, which takes into account the whole installation rather than the individual components. This is called LENI - the Lighting Efficiency Numeric Indicator. The Lighting Industry Association have put together a mini guide to these new requirements, including the formula and calculations to work out luminaire efficacy the LENI, which can be viewed here

Make no mistake, there is A LOT of information and statistics surrounding Part L but hopefully this post has made things a little clearer for you and given you a better idea of what is required to help reduce Britain's carbon footprint.