Is going green the best way to cut energy bills? - Gas and electricity - News - Moneyfacts

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Is going green the best way to cut energy bills?

Is going green the best way to cut energy bills?

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 09/10/2014
First Published: 09/10/2014

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This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

In a welcome move earlier this week, the Government announced its plans to put an extra £100 million into the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. The scheme itself encourages homeowners to be more energy-efficient by investing in things like double glazing and insulation, and offers incentives for doing so. This extra funding means that more people than ever will be able to benefit from the scheme, and in the long run, going green could save you a serious amount of cash.

What is the Green Deal?

In a nutshell, the Green Deal is a Government initiative aimed at encouraging homeowners to make improvements to their home that would make it more energy efficient. It effectively gives a loan or grant to help cover – or even pay for outright – the cost of those improvements.

Applications for this year's scheme initially closed in July, but this extra amount of funding opens it back up to new applicants. Those wishing to make energy saving improvements to their home will be invited to apply before the end of November.

The exact terms and conditions of this new stage of funding haven't yet been announced, but under the previous version of the scheme, applicants could apply for various incentives depending on the work being carried out. For example, if you installed solid wall insulation, you could have applied for a payment equal to 75% of the cost, or if you made two alternative eligible energy saving improvements as specified by the scheme, you could have had the full amount covered.

Green Deal Home Improvement Fund vouchers "went like hot cakes earlier in the year", said Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey, "and now even more people can cut their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient". Energy and Climate Change Minister Amber Rudd added: "Over three-quarters of a million homes have already had energy saving improvements installed as a result of [these] schemes, and it makes sense to help even more families install measures so that they see the benefits of lower bills and a warmer home for years to come."

Taking advantage of the scheme could therefore be a great way to cut your bills down to size for the long term. Further details of the update will be announced in due course, but if you've been contemplating getting some work done on your home, it could be time to start getting your application prepared.

Go green, save cash…

So just how much could you save by going green? Well, quite a lot, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Here are a few energy efficient home improvements you might like to make, along with how much you could save:

  • New heating controls. No matter how old your boiler is, proper controls can make all the difference. They can let you specify what rooms to heat, decide how warm you want them to be, and will let you set your heating and hot water to come on and off when you need them. Installing a room thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves could save you up to £150 a year.
  • Double glazing. If you've got single glazed windows, you'll quickly notice the difference from having an upgrade, and it could save you around £110 per year.
  • Loft insulation. It's recommended to have loft insulation that's at least 270mm (10 inches) thick. If your loft is currently uninsulated and you put in this amount of loft insulation you could save up to £150 a year, and even if you only needed to top up from 100mm to 270mm, you could save around £15 a year.
  • Cavity wall insulation. If you've got cavity walls but don't have any insulation between the two layers, you need to fill the gap pronto. Cavity wall insulation fills the space and can make your home a lot warmer, and even though it can cost around £450-£500 to install, you can save up to £145 a year (or even more depending on your property's age), so it'll soon pay for itself.
  • Solid wall insulation. This really is the big one, as installing solid wall insulation could save you up to £460 per year. However, it costs a lot too, potentially adding up to thousands of pounds, so this in particular is where an application to the Green Deal scheme could come in very handy. Either way, it could be worth it in the long run, as it'll make your home a lot warmer and could seriously lower your bills.

… but shop around and save even more!

While going green is the only way you can really cut down your bills for the long term, if you want to make quick savings there's something else you can't afford to overlook – shopping around!

Unfortunately, it isn't something that everyone naturally thinks of, as according to a recent survey by Ofgem, people often overlook energy shopping when preparing for winter. The survey found that the most common winter ritual is swapping a light duvet for a thicker one (47%) and swapping to a winter wardrobe (46%), and although bleeding the radiators is one aspect that could help cut energy costs by making radiators more efficient, just 27% of Brits make this part of their winter ritual.

Shopping around for energy is only on the agenda for 23% of respondents. Given that 71% of the average annual gas bill and 54% of the annual electricity bill comes from the winter months, this is something that sorely needs to change if Brits really want to prepare for winter.

Mark Todd, director of independent price comparison site energyhelpline, commented: "The Green Deal initiative is a step in the right direction to prompt the British public to make their homes more energy efficient, [but] there's an easier way to make quick savings on your energy bills by simply switching supplier or tariff.

"It's shocking to learn that millions of Britons are missing out on cash savings by sticking with their same energy supplier or tariff each winter. Despite the fact that 75% of the British public spend more time in their homes in the winter months, most are still being left out in the cold and paying more than they need on energy bills.

"With the onset of cold weather, cash-strapped consumers worried about the cost of heating their home should consider shopping around to get the best deal. By switching, an average UK household can typically save up to £342 per year."

So why not get in on the energy switching action? The Green Deal scheme could be a great way to cut your bills down to size for the long term, but if you don't need to make any improvements to your home – or if you're looking for a quick fix – then shopping around could be a simple solution. Check out our comparison tool to see how much you could save.

What next?

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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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