Help is on hand to cut bills but be wary of it

LG 230914 Citizens Advice Bureau staff, Littlehampton. Elliott Weights. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140923-213637001
LG 230914 Citizens Advice Bureau staff, Littlehampton. Elliott Weights. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140923-213637001
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WITH winter’s chill looming, homeowners across the land will be switching on their radiators and turning up the heat fairly soon.

But this could come at a hefty cost, particularly for older homes, with antiquated heating and insulation.

However, help is on hand to slash energy bills and make your home more energy- efficient. A new Government project called the Green Deal has recently been launched to help fit energy-saving improvements to your home such as loft insulation, double glazing and solar panels.

It lets you do these without paying up-front. Instead, you take out a loan which is repaid through the savings on your energy bills. Like any credit arrangement, the Green Deal is a serious financial commitment, so you need to think carefully about whether it’s right for you.

The loan is attached to properties, not people, so if you move house then repayments will pass to the next owner or tenant who will need to know that loan is attached to the property before they agree to buy.

The scheme is designed so savings always outstrip repayments. But this isn’t a guarantee, so taking out a Green Deal loan may mean your bills increase. If you’re on an electricity meter, repayments will be taken off your credit in small amounts several times a day, so you may find that your credit is used up faster.

If you decide to go ahead, the first step is an assessment of your home, which you often have to pay for. Green Deal assessors and providers must be accredited. To check, see gdorb.decc.gov.uk/consumersearch

If you decide to go ahead, there is a seven-day cooling off period. If you change your mind during the cooling off period, you won’t have to pay a cancellation fee, although you are likely to have to pay some of the assessment cost if work has been carried out before you cancel.

Green Deal loans are covered by the Consumer Credit Act, which gives you important rights. If you have a complaint, you should contact your provider.

If they can’t sort out your problem, you can contact the Energy or Financial Services Ombudsman.

If you can’t save money through the Green Deal, you may be able to get extra financial help under the Energy Company Obligation requiring power companies to fund improvements such as solid wall insulation and cavity wall insulation.

For advice, visit the Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice Bureau in Anchor Springs, Littlehampton, or see www.arunchichestercab.org.uk and click AdviceGuide.

For details on the Green Deal the ECO and other ways to get help to save energy is available on 0300 123 1234.