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UK: Tough rules to protect consumers when they insulate their properties

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The Green Deal, due to start in 2012, is the Government’s new and radical way of enabling private companies to make energy efficiency available to all at no upfront cost. The work to upgrade the property will be paid back from the saving on energy bills. Millions of Britain’s properties – whether owned or rented - will be made warmer, cosier and cheaper to run. The Energy Bill, published in Parliament today, sets out for the first time how the Green Deal will work. It will be available for both household and business premises. As well as helping businesses improve their own energy efficiency - there are also huge market opportunities in the supply chain, including new opportunities for small and medium sized firms. The number of people employed in insulation alone could soar from the present 27,000 to 100,000 by 2015, eventually rising to a peak of 250,000 in the next decade.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said: “I’m confident the Green Deal will catch on with the public. It’ll make upgrading our nation’s draughty homes a no brainer. But I don’t want people to be hoodwinked by rogue traders or receive dodgy advice.
“Trust is important when it comes to having work done in our homes. Consumer protection will be built into the Green Deal from the word go. Accreditation, a quality mark, insurance-backed warranties – there’ll be no place for cowboys to get a foothold in the Green Deal.
“When it comes to making our homes warmer and cosier, Britain’s a laggard. The Green Deal is about taking the hassle and upfront cost out of making your home more energy efficient.

“The Green Deal’s also a great business opportunity and shows we’re serious about the green industries of the future.”


 
Key highlights of the protection measures include:
  • All customers will receive accredited advice on how to make their property more energy efficient
  • The Green Deal measures must be installed by an accredited installer working for a reputable company
  • Rules will prevent customers being subjected to unfair or misleading selling practices
  • A ‘Green Deal’ quality mark to ensure trust in the scheme
  • Insurance-backed warranties to cover the work so consumers are covered if there are faults with the advice or installation of measures
  • A competitive market for Green Deal delivery which enables new market entrants, like high street retailers, builders’ merchants or local authorities, to be advisers, providers and accredited installers.
    
The Energy Bill also confirms that:
  • Consumers will be able to pay back the Green Deal through a charge on their energy bills. When the occupier moves on, not only will a more efficient property be left to the next occupier, the charge will also be left behind.
  • The Secretary of State will have powers to make future regulations requiring private landlords to make reasonable energy efficiency improvements to their properties subject to there being no up-front costs to them.
  • A new Energy Company Obligation on energy suppliers that will provide additional support for low income vulnerable households and for those whose homes are more difficult or expensive to improve.
  • Power to allow the Secretary of State to ensure that energy companies provide their customers with information on their cheapest tariffs, if a voluntary agreement isn’t reached.