British gas offers £10,000 to eco-fit homes

British Gas wants you to Pay As You Save British Gas is offering 100 households £10,000 to eco-fit their homes. Miles Brignall reports

How would you like £10,000 to make your home more energy efficient? British Gas is looking for 100 households to take part in a new scheme called Pay as You Save. The trial will help the government decide how it delivers on its pledge to make the UK's homes more energy efficient.

Although the launch was rather lost, by coinciding with the first day of the Copenhagen talks, the pilot scheme will see householders given a loan to allow them to install either energy efficiency measures or micro-generation projects, such as photovoltaic solar panels.

The householder pays back the loan over as much as 25 years, through the money saved by reduced gas and electricity bills, or the income generated by the energy they produce. The consumer can therefore pay for the energy- and climate-saving measures without incurring extra monthly costs.

The government has pinned its hopes on this scheme as it struggles to upgrade the nation's housing stock and produce more electricity from renewable sources. This week the Conservative party said it would launch a similar scheme in partnership with Tesco and Marks & Spencer if it won the next election. It was apparently unaware of this trial.

The Energy Saving Trust, an independent non-profit body that offers advice to government and the private sector, says its research shows that householders are more likely to make larger investments if the costs can be spread through the savings they make on their energy bills. It couldn't say whether the loans would be interest-free, as the details are "yet to be properly established".

In total, 500 households will benefit from the pilot scheme – 100 each in Birmingham, Sunderland, Sutton, and Stroud. A further 100 can join the scheme through British Gas, although only households in the south-east are eligible.

The pilot scheme will be used to evaluate which delivery method provides the greatest benefits. The loans will start going out next spring, and the trial will run until April 2011.

British Gas is especially keen to hear from householders who are interested in micro-generation projects.

A spokesman says those applying do not have to be British Gas customers. The company is looking for different types of homes that would benefit from measures such as photo voltaic solar panels, air source heat pumps, solar water heaters, or solid-wall insulation.

If you are interested in applying email British Gas. Your email should include your postal address and phone number, as well as giving an indication of what measures you are interested in and brief details about your house.

Because the trial runs for two years, it would help if you are not planning to move during that period, although if there is a mass take-up of the scheme, the debt might stay with the home if the household installing the measures moves before it is paid off.

Speaking at the launch, energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband said: "Many British householders want to reduce their emissions, but are put off by the upfront cost of installing insulation, solar panels or ground source heat pumps. Pay As You Save will trial different ways of paying for this work. One quarter of the UK's total emissions come from homes, so householders have to be a part of the solution to climate change. Increasing the energy efficiency of homes not only helps reduce emissions, but will also help reduce fuel bills."

Business Electricity

19th December, 2009

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