Back in January official Government figures showed that the Green Deal wasn't doing too well - in fact in it's first year it had barely managed to achieve a fraction of its expected targets. And although the Government admitted things weren't working out quite the way they had anticipated, Climate Change minister Greg Barker still considered it an encouraging start and was confident things were going to pick up in 2014. Could he have been right?

Electrical body NICEIC are reporting that now more than 1000 companies have signed up for Green Deal installer status with them, alongside further news that consumer interest has picked up in recent months. Since the end of December, an impressive 129,842 Green Deal assessments are said to have been lodged. With only 1,612 houses recorded to have made plans overall (with a further 626 houses having plans in place), this figure alone has the potential to upset last years numbers.

NICEIC head of operations Paul Collins said, "The government is committed to ensuring that all work undertaken via Green Deal is carried out by registered firms and with interest in the initiative now ramping up we are seeing more and more firms look to get involved. We have witnessed a large number of skilled professionals such as electricians, plumbers, heating and gas engineers come to NICEIC for certification as it is a name associated with quality and assurance."

So maybe the Government's confidence in the Green Deal wasn't unfounded? That being said it still has a long way to go yet - after all if none of these put plans in place then the Green Deal is back at square one. For those still not in the know about this Government programme, the Green Deal aims to fund energy-saving upgrades to homes without any upfront costs for installation. Instead, the costs are added to your energy bills and staggered over time.

This may sound offputting, but the rule of the Green Deal is that the repayments MUST be less than the money you're saving on your energy bills - so you'll be paying less regardless of the installments. Interested customers must first have a propety assesment performed by a special Green Deal advisor, who will look at your home's current energy performance and suggest what measures are suitable for you. From there you can begin searching for quotes from Green Deal providers who will be able to tell you the overall cost of the work.

More information on the Green Deal can be found on the DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change)'s website, but expect more news in the future as it seems there's life in the programme yet!

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.

After many months of the Green Deal with very little success, the Department of Energy & Climate Change have announced that they will begin introducing new measures at the beginning of 2014 to make it more straightforward and less time consuming for both tradespeople and consumers alike.

In the eight months the Government's flagship energy policy has been running, a mere 12 homes have had measures put in place - although it is reported several thousand are waiting for applications to be processed after having home assessments carried out.

The DECC plans to open up access to energy performance certificate (EPC) data so companies can then have better focus on how they market the scheme. It also plans to add more home improvement measures to the list that is covered by the Deal, while allowing more flexibility over the exact specifications companies must install to. A new, improved website will also be set up to increase consumer interest.

Finally there are also plans to work with the Green Deal Finance Company to make it possible for customers to go from a quote to a plan in a single day, removing the need for different people to make separate visits to homes as an application is processed.

The DECC will roll out some of these changes in January, however some require Paraliamentary approval to ammend the legislation and so will be coming in later months.

A committee of MPs have banded together to call for changes to be made to the Green Deal so that it is made more finanically attractive to both homeowners and landlords.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment has compiled a 36-page report, entitled "Re-energising the green agenda", suggesting that the government's flagship green policy needs to be clearer in the public eye as many people are still unaware of its existence. The report commends the setting up of the Green Deal, but believes it is time for it to be reworked to make it work for social housing and to make the financial incentives it offers more permanent. It also advocates greater clarity from the government, saying:

"Despite setting out ambitious targets, the government has been sending mixed messages about its commitment to the green agenda. This has been particularly apparent over the delay to the revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations covering energy efficiency, and the slow progress on establishing how zero carbon will be met for domestic buildings in 2016. In recent years unexpected changes to the feed-in-tariffs also caused consternation and undermined confidence in the construction sector."

They have set out seven recommendations to the government in terms of changes, which include making retrofit more finanicially attractive by looking at ways in which it can reduce the interest rate on the Green Deal, bolstering the Green Construction board to make it a more transparent organisation that provide a clear construction industry focal point, and setting up an Existing Homes Hub (along the lines of the Zero Carbon Homes Hub), to engage with the industry on sustainability issues and provide a neutral space for the industry and DECC to work together.

Group chairman Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, said: “The world faces significant environmental challenges, and to help combat them our government needs to ensure Britain plays its part in reducing CO2 emissions; make our homes more energy efficient; reduce the costs of heating our homes; help combat fuel poverty and meet our required energy needs.

“We hope this report sends a clear message to government to reaffirm and re-energise its commitment to the delivery of the sustainable agenda in construction and the built environment and in doing so, provide clarity and certainty to help industry play its part in turning policies into success stories. The potential to create jobs at home and export our new skills and expertise in this field abroad is a prize in itself.”

The full report can be read here at www.cic.org.uk

Via The Construction Index

Following Ed Miliband's promises to freeze energy bills for 20 months, limit the power yielded by the "big six" energy providers and replace energy regulator Ofgem, the Labour Party has also vowed to do something about the Green Deal at their annual party conference in Brighton earlier this week.

In a policy review published on the 24th September, the party promised to address the shortcomings of the Green Deal and create an alternative that would encourage people to sign up and make the changes to their homes. The review read: "The Green Deal is failing to deliver. Since its launch, only 384 deals have been signed up to and just twelve have gone live. This is woefully inadequate so we will overhaul the Green Deal and replace it with a new energy save scheme."

The Labour Party has also called the coalition government's flagship energy scheme "woefully inadequate" and is failing to provide any sort of long-term solution to reducing the country's carbon footprint. Energy secretary Caroline Flint said: "It was meant to be the biggest home improvement programme since World War Two and ministers said they would be having sleepless nights if 10,000 people had not signed up by Christmas 2013. They won’t be getting much shut eye."

Despite constant reports of growing interest in the Green Deal and the government's insistence that those who have had Green Deal assessments were happy and recommended them to friends and family, there have only been a total of 12 homes with completed projects since the scheme's launch earlier this year.

Of course, these changes they propose will only potentially happen should the Labour Party gain power in the next general election in 2015. With that still quite a way off, it'll be interesting to hear what exactly they propose as an alternative in the meantime.

Via uSwitch

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.

Despite numerous articles panning the Green Deal and various other renewable energy initiatives, it seems they've had little effect on the general public's support for environmentally-friendly alternatives.

New research by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which surveyed over 2000 UK households back in July, has found that their strategies for implementing more renewable energy sources across the country still receive high support from the public - with 76% of respondants backing their plans.

However despite this seemingly high number there has been somewhat of a decline in interest. 18 months ago this figure stood at a slightly higher 79%, but earlier in the year it stood at a much more impressive 82%. However on the upside the number of those that oppose renewable installations hasn't changed - standing at the same 5% it did 18 months ago.

As well as recording support for large-scale energy generating methods such as wind farms and biomass, the research also found that Brits are actually quite in the know when it comes to saving money on their own personal bills with 76% having considered different ways to bring bills down. Unfortuntately, it also seems that this knowledge perhaps isn't in the right places just yet, with nearly half of respondants (47%) having never heard of smart meters. This is only 6% less than it was 18 months ago.

Smart meters are an important part of government strategy. They work by connecting homes directly to energy firms through electricity meters. This means their bills are always calculated via exact readings as opposed to estimated usage levels, which can lead to lower costs in the long run.

Temperatures could soar to dangerously high levels in some homes insulated under the government's flagship Green Deal scheme, experts have warned. Energy-saving measures designed to save on winter fuel bills and protect the environment could pose a risk to health during summer heatwaves, they add. Homes in densely populated urban areas such as London are most at risk. The government says it is aware of the problem and is taking steps to prevent overheating in Green Deal properties.

Heat can build up during the day and has nowhere to escape at night leading to poor air quality and a greater risk of heat stress for the occupants which, in extreme cases, can kill. It is vital that homes in the UK are better insulated to help meet carbon emission targets and save on winter fuel bills. But the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the "big rush to insulate and make homes airtight", particularly as more extreme weather events, including heatwaves, are being predicted for the UK by meteorologists.

"Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand. It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big," he told the BBC News website. Very effective measures are being taken to protect against winter temperatures but by doing that they increase the risk of overheating during summer.

Research by Leicester De Montfort University, suggests top floor flats in 1960s tower blocks, and modern detached houses were most at risk, particularly if they were south facing. Heat was likely to have the biggest impact on elderly or infirm people who remained at home all day, the research suggests. The elderly are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating.

Under the Green Deal, householders take out loans to finance improvements such as double-glazing, loft insulation or more efficient boilers. The idea is that the energy savings they make should more than compensate for the repayments. In total it said there had been 38,259 Green Deal assessments, where customers are given initial advice about what energy improvements they might be eligible for. Of those, 241 households have confirmed they would like to proceed with work.

According to research by a group of leading engineering and climate change experts, published last year, "Green Deal measures could create new problems in the future, with inappropriately insulated properties experiencing poor indoor air quality and significant summer overheating. It said the increased likelihood of summer heatwaves could lead to rise in heat-related deaths from 2,000 to 5,000 per year by 2080 "if action was not taken".

The Department for Energy and Climate Change says it has now issued fresh guidance to Green Deal suppliers to help reduce potential risk from installing energy efficiency measures.

He said there were simple measures anyone could take - whether living in a well-insulated home or not - to keep heat levels down, such as keeping windows closed during the day to trap cool air and opening them at night. Fitting shutters to windows and painting exterior walls white - both common sights in Mediterranean countries - would also help, but were unlikely to be widely adopted in the UK due to the relative rarity of heatwaves.

Here is the link to the full BBC report.

10 ways the UK is ill-prepared for a heatwave

- Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

With the weather constantly on the up at the moment it seems like Britain may be able to enjoy a proper summer for once. However industry experts have warned that homes insulated under the Green Deal scheme could be facing dangerously high temperatures both over the coming months and future summer times. 

Prof Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, told the BBC that the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the “big rush to insulate and make homes airtight”. He cited homes in urban areas are most at risk from problems during summer heatwaves. 

"Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand," he said. "It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big."

"If you are in the wrong type of house, facing the wrong way, in the wrong street and you don’t deal with heat in the right way, it is a problem. Particularly for the elderly. They are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating."

His team's report suggested that with the increased likelihood of summer heatwaves in the future, there could be a rise in heat-related deaths from 2,000 to 5,000 per year by 2080 if action was not taken. To combat this, the DECC are now issuing fresh guidance to Green Deal suppliers to help reduce this risk while continuing to install energy efficient measures.

In a statement they said: "If energy efficiency measures are installed appropriately, overheating should not be a common problem and there’s guidance available for those involved in the Green Deal."

“The DECC is working with experts and other government departments to understand the potential risk of overheating in retrofitted homes and ensure that the energy efficiency supply chain, including those working within the Green Deal, are aware and guidance is provided on homes which are most likely to be vulnerable and what steps could be taken to minimise any risk of overheating."

Via Construction Enquirer

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have released the first quarterly Green Deal statistics, which have been met to mixed response by leading industry professionals. These statistics show that almost 40,000 people so far have had an assessment carried out.

The key figures for up to the 16th June are:

  • 38,259 homes have had a Green Deal assessment
  • A rise in assessments every month: 7,491 in March, 9,522 in April, 12,146 in May
  • 241 customers have obtained a quote from a Green Deal Provider and have confirmed they wish to make energy efficient improvements to their home
  • Four customers have signed up to a Green Deal Plan and progress is being made to install energy efficient measures
  • 961 people have claimed cashback for a new boiler installation – 902 gas and 59 oil boilers
  • 1,254 installer organisations are accredited and qualified to work within the Green Deal.
Plumb Center's Head of Sustainability Tim Polland has praised these figures, remarking that "40,000 assessments is a significant marketplace and installers will know that represents more than a fad – I can’t imagine any installer not thinking it’s a good thing." He expressed optimism that the scheme would continue to grow past "those who are passionate about the scheme" and that stressed:"...the people at the heart of Green Deal knew it wasn’t going to produce a tsunami of demand at the start, it was going to be a scheme of longevity and the time to judge is at its end, not its beginning."

On the other side of the argument, HHIC (Heating & Hotwater Industry Council) Director Roger Webb considered the figures "very disappointing". He went on to say: "However, on a positive note, they will be a wake-up call for the government to simplify the scheme and to really engage with the small installer. It is not too late for the Green Deal as the scheme has hardly got off the ground and further action will be required to reform the scheme. The heating industry from the success of the cashback incentive want to stress that figures prove that changing a boiler is one of the key routes to gain consumer interest in the Green Deal and enabling further measures to be taken up."

Meanwhile, earlier last week it was revealed that a cross-section of industry leaders had written to all three main political parties in an attempt to persuade them to come together to ensure that the Green Deal doesn't fail. The letter was addressed to energy secretary Ed Davey (Liberal Democrat), minister Greg Barker (Conservative) and shadow energy minister Luciana Berger (Labour) can be viewed in its entirety below;

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We are taking the unusual step of writing the same letter to all three of the main political parties, setting out our major concerns with current retrofit policy and our belief that we can only address this most urgent of challenges with a greater degree of cross party consensus, and collaboration between government and industry.

Government’s own figures show that meeting our legally binding carbon targets requires a high level of retrofit across the UK’s 26 million domestic properties, at an average of one home per minute between now and 2050. Clearly this is a monumental task, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity: to reduce energy bills, improve health, provide jobs in the construction sector, and avoid additional costs of new generating capacity.

However, to have any chance of successfully tackling this, it will require government – either this one, or indeed any future one – to address the following major issues:

Green Deal interest rates: The current rate of interest for Green Deal finance is in danger of acting as a major disincentive to take up, as well as minimising the extent of the measures available in a Green Deal package. Taking inspiration from the effect of recent government intervention to support new build homes, government should explore, with stakeholders, what options are available to reduce risk associated with providing Green Deal finance – even if this means greater intervention in the market.

Long term structural incentives: Even if Green Deal was available at a much lower cost of finance, long term structural incentives would still be needed to ensure sufficient uptake. Council tax or stamp duty could be used to send a signal to consumers and the market on the direction of travel, and both could be applied in a fiscally neutral way to HMT. Regulation could also be used, in particular Consequential Improvements, which government itself has estimated would lead to an additional 2.2 million Green Deals being taken up.

Stakeholder engagement: There needs to be a better on-going dialogue between government and those trying to deliver the Green Deal on the ground, in order to overcome obstacles, reduce unnecessary complexity, identify future issues and learn lessons. At the very least this should take place through a high level industry advisory board co-chaired by a minister and a senior industry figure. It could also involve a more operational body, or ‘hub’, which government has previously expressed support for.

Long-term certainty and political consensus: There is an increasing sense that the Green Deal, and indeed energy bills more generally, are being used as a political football, which is not good for confidence in the market. These challenges will affect any party, or parties, of government and very bold decisions will be required. We believe there needs to be a new consensus forged between the main parties around retrofit, to depoliticise what is ultimately a long-term challenge that it is in the nation’s interest to successfully address.

Yours sincerely,

  • Paul King - Chief executive, UK Green Building Council
  • James Cameron - Chairman, Climate Change Capital
  • Mark Clare - Group chief executive of Barratt Developments Plc
  • John Frankiewicz - CEO, Willmott Dixon Capital Works
  • Peter Hindle - general delegate, UK, Ireland and South Africa, Saint Gobain
  • Ian Marchant - CEO, SSE Plc
  • Gene Murtagh - CEO, Kingspan Group Plc
  • John Sinfield - Chief Executive, Knauf Insulation
  • Russell Smith - Managing director, Parity Projects & acting chairman of RetrofitWorks
  • Nigel Taylor - Chief operating officer, Services, Carillion Plc
  • Peter Walls - CEO, Gentoo

New research from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has revealed that taking energy saving measures on your home (via the Green Deal or otherwise) could see a significant rise in its value.

The report took into account over 300,000 property sales in England between 1995 and 2011, making it the most comprehensive research in this area to date. The results found that on average house value could be increased by up to 14%, with that figure even reaching 38% in certain parts of the country.

For an average home in England, improving its EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) from band G to E, or from band D to B, could mean adding more than £16,000 to the sale price of the property. In the North East, improved energy efficiency from band G to E could increase this value by over £25,000 and the average home in the North West could see £23,000 added to its value.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “We have long known the benefits of making energy saving improvements to the home, but this study is real evidence of the huge potential rewards. Not only can energy efficient improvements help protect you against rising energy prices, but they can also add real value to your property. This Coalition is committed to helping hardworking families with the cost of living. The Green Deal is designed to do exactly that.

“The Green Deal is helping more people make these types of home improvements, reducing high upfront costs and letting people pay for some the cost through the savings on their bills. The Green Deal is a great option for anyone wanting to improve the look, feel and potentially the value of their home.”

If you're reading this as an installer, it illustrates yet another reason why so many people are turning toward renewable energy sources - especially while the Green Deal is assisting in the cost. Training in renewable energy methods is the perfect way of expanding your business as well as getting the satisfaction that you are doing your part to help decrease Britain's carbon footprint. If you would like to find out more about what renewable energy training is available to you, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492.

Full story: Installeronline

The Green Deal is in danger of “sleepwalking into obscurity”, warns the ECA.

In response to the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report into the Green Deal, the ECA has said that the findings should be a stark warning for the Government.

The ECA said, “The Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report into the Green Deal issued on 22nd May is a wake-up call to Government, which must keep on top of Green Deal performance if it is to prevent its flagship policy from sleepwalking into obscurity.”

Now the Green Deal is live, the Government must be quick to react to what is happening on the ground, and make changes if success is in doubt. Considering the PV FITs fiasco was worsened by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) relying on outdated figures on solar installations, the DECC should be accessing real-time information on the Green Deal, right now.

Millions of homes and businesses could benefit from the Green Deal, but at the current rate of assessments it will take around 100 years to get round to them. The first figures on actual Green Deal installation work, which come out in June, will be crucial.

Depending on what these figures say, the DECC may need to be ready with a Plan B. That should include reducing interest rates, which are widely seen as uncompetitive. Even simple measures like making the early adopter loans more obvious to consumers could help.

Awareness of the Green Deal financial incentives is very sketchy; publicity of what people need to do to benefit from the scheme is non-existent. How can the ‘common man’ (or woman) take advantage of the scheme when they are not being provided with any information?

The government call this a "Flagship incentive" - I would call it propaganda.

- Mark Jenkins