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Green Deal Looks Like Another Green Flop

Energy-saving measures such as solar panels and double glazing fail to reduce bills in up to a quarter of homes, an official report has found. A trial of the Coalition’s £3 billion “green deal”, under which householders can take out government-backed loans of up to £10,000 to improve energy efficiency, showed that in some cases bills rose despite the measures.

The scheme is being championed by David Cameron and will be available to up to 14 million homes from next year.

But a trial of 311 households, conducted by companies including B&Q and British Gas, found that 26 per cent of those who measured their energy usage experienced no reduction in bills.

A report for the Energy Saving Trust and the Department of Energy and Climate Change singles out poorly performing solar panels as a particular cause for concern.

It states: “A limited number reported they had checked their bill savings or checked the amount of electricity the solar panels were generating and the actuals were less than the predicted.” One householder told the study: “The performance of the panels so far is not as high as it’s meant to be or as high as we expected.”

In general, most householders were happy with their participation in the energy-saving scheme. Rising energy prices or changes in household living patterns could account for the lack of money saved in some cases.

But the Government may still find it difficult to convince consumers that their bills would have been even higher without the efficiency improvements.

An energy department spokesman said: “You would expect to save money — that’s the whole premise [of the scheme] — but there obviously are things we can’t predict. The Pay As You Save scheme has been most useful for testing consumer responses and various delivery options.”

The Energy Saving Trust, which received a £4 million grant to run the trial, added that it had mostly been used to test how consumers might prefer to have energy efficiency loans delivered, rather than measuring savings.

“It was mainly about the logistics,” a spokesman said. Around 55 per cent of all households assessed under the pilot scheme ended up installing energy-saving measures such as a solar panel or double glazing.

Of those who did not, two thirds were discounted because their houses were not suitable or they failed a credit check.

Another third cancelled the job themselves, mainly because of financial reasons such as not wanting to take on repayments for the government loan over 10 years or 25 years.

Three quarters of those who took part in the trials would probably not have installed the energy-saving measures without the Government’s financial help.

The Daily Telegraph, 20 September 2011