ASK THE EXPERT

A. The Green Deal is the Government’s new flagship energy conservation project. With around a quarter of the UK’s total carbon emissions coming from the energy used in our homes, and much of the existing housing stock still woefully inefficient in terms of energy consumption, this new scheme is designed to help homeowners by giving them access to up to 10,000 pounds-worth of energy-related improvements, recommended and approved by specially-accredited assessors.

The essence of the plan is that, rather than having to pay upfront for all the insulation, double-glazing or whatever is deemed necessary, the cost will instead be repaid through higher energy bills over a period of 25 years – subject to what the Government describes as The Golden Rule, which says that the savings made through greater energy efficiency must be greater than the cost of the improvements required. Crucially, the loan is tied to the property – which means that if it is subsequently sold, repayments will continue to be made by the new owner.

Another key feature of the scheme is that it will be funded by the business sector, rather than by Government. A number of major retailers are already planning to start selling insulation products and other home energy improvements under it. Indeed, one well-known DIY chain recently went a step further with the acquisition of a firm specialising in the training of Domestic Energy Assessors and the provision of Energy Performance Certificates.

With the first Green Deals scheduled to appear in the Autumn of 2012, the whole thing sounds like a rather good idea. Except for the fact that the necessary legislation has been delayed, and won’t now get onto the statute books for months. There is also growing concern in some quarters over the commercialisation of the whole thing, with fears that DIY firms, utility companies and supermarkets could exploit it to sell their own products – as recommended by so-called “impartial” advisors who could actually be their own employees!

It also remains to be seen, of course, how the existence of a Green Deal – with the ongoing financial obligations that go with it – might affect a property’s saleability…

Still, let’s not be churlish. After all, it’s all in the cause of saving the planet – isn’t it?