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Green Deal funding for energy efficient home improvements

This advice applies to Scotland

Did HELMS (Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd) sell energy efficient home improvements to you?

HELMS are now in liquidation but we believe scammed some of their customers who now face higher energy bills, missing building warrants and other problems. To find out whether you were scammed, check HELMS and Green Deal concerns and complaints

What is the Green Deal Scheme

The Green Deal was a UK Government scheme from 2013 to 2015. A Green Deal loan was a way to borrow money to pay for energy saving home improvements. 

When you sign up to Green Deal you are entering into a consumer credit agreement with the Green Deal provider. You are borrowing money under credit.

The Green Deal loans are paid back by instalments through the electricity bill.

Green Deal providers issued Green Deal finance to customers as a way to pay for energy saving improvements they were installing to homes across the UK. Types of energy saving improvements under the Green Deal scheme are:

  • solar panels
  • new boilers
  • external wall insulation / wall cladding
  • cavity wall insulation
  • double glazing windows
  • under-floor heating.

The UK Government stopped funding the Green Deal scheme in July 2015. However, some private companies have continued to offer Green Deal finance. 

Regardless of when your Green Deal began, you will continue to make your repayments through your energy supplier, as detailed in your agreement with the Green Deal provider.

If you want to make your home more energy efficient, to help reduce your bills you can find out about the different schemes available in Scotland on our page Funding for energy efficiency in homes.

How to find out if you have the Green Deal

If you have the Green Deal you should have any of the following:

  • a signed credit agreement with the Green Deal provider, the company installing the products
  • an annual statement of what you have paid and what you still owe for your Green Deal finance
  • your electricity bill will be taking payments for Green Deal, you can check this with your energy supplier.

You’ve got the Green Deal – have you been scammed

Signs you may have been scammed are if you:

  • were told the Green Deal was free - the Green Deal is a loan which you pay back in instalments through your energy bills. It isn’t free. You may only realise this when you start to get more expensive electricity bills 

  • did not know you had Green Deal finance - you may have Green Deal payments on your energy bill which you don't believe you agreed to
  • were sold solar panels or other products that you didn’t need or weren’t suitable for your home
  • transferred your solar panel feed-in tariff (FIT) as well as getting a Green Deal loan
  • have Green Deal Finance and another loan for the same work.

If this happened to you, your Green Deal might have been mis-sold.

If you feel you were mis-sold the Green Deal or given the wrong information from the Green Deal provider (the company that installed the products) about the costs and benefits of the Green Deal then you can complain. You can follow our steps in How to complain about your Green Deal energy efficient home improvements or you might want to contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for help.

Solar panels and the feed-in tariff

When your solar panels were fitted did the company installing them talk you through all of the following:

Do you need solar panels

If solar panels aren’t on your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) you may not need them. When your home is assessed for energy efficiency improvements they will issue you with an EPC which will detail what energy improvements are suitable for your home. You do not have to do everything the EPC suggests.

Is your roof suitable

Not every home can have solar panels attached to the roof. Did the installer of the PV solar panels assess and explain to you whether the angle and position of your roof was suitable? Some Green Deal providers didn’t check this or told clients that their roof was suitable when it wasn’t.

If you want to carry out your own research to see whether your solar panels are suitable for your home, Home Energy Scotland, is a Scottish Government programme that provides free and impartial advice. You can contact them if you want to discuss your solar panels.

If you don’t think your solar panels are suitable for your roof and want to complain, see our page How to complain about your Green Deal energy efficient home improvements.

Building warrants

Often you don’t need a building warrant for PV solar panels in Scotland, but if you live in a conservation area or have a listed property, a building warrant may be required. 

The installer of your solar panels may advise you about how to do this or apply for you. However, it is always best to check with your local council's planning department, even if the installer of the solar panels tells you that a building warrant is not required.

Is your electricity meter compatible

We are aware of some existing solar panels not being wired correctly. If you have any concerns you should contact the installer and or an independent electrician to examine the wiring to ensure it is safe and compliant.

Not all existing meters will work correctly with solar panels. The installer of the solar panels should ensure your meter is correctly recording both energy usage and the energy generated.

If you are concerned that the savings are not what you expected and that your meter may not be accurate, you should first speak to the installer of the solar panels. 

If the installer has checked the system and you are still concerned you should contact your energy supplier. Once the supplier is aware that the meter may not be suitable, they must ensure the meter is appropriate. This responsibility has been put on suppliers through Schedule 7 of the Electricity Act 1989. 

Feed-in tariff for solar panels

The feed-in tariff is a UK Government scheme aimed at encouraging people to install energy generation measures, such as solar panels.

The feed-in tariff pays to the person who registers the solar panels, this is usually the owner of the property.

Transferring the feed-in tariff to the installer of your solar panels can be used as a method of paying for the supply and installation cost of the solar panels. If you transfer the feed-in tariff and are told to take out Green Deal finance or any other loan make sure you understand how each of these are paying towards the solar panels as you may be paying too much for the solar panels and this could be a sign you have been scammed. 

Please see our page How to complain about your Green Deal energy efficient home improvements if you want to make a complaint. Alternatively you can visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.

How much is the feed-in tariff

Tariffs are paid by energy suppliers for 20 years and the tariff is index linked. You can find details about the feed-in tariff rates here on the OFGEM’s Feed-in tariff rates page.

There are two parts to the tariff:

  1. The generation tariff. This is the main payment of feed-in tariffs. The owner of the feed-in tariff is paid for every kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity they produce, regardless of whether they use the electricity themselves or not.
  2. The export tariff. This is a payment for every kWh of electricity that is not used by the owner, so the electricity is exported to the national grid for them to use instead.

External wall insulation / cladding

External wall insulation fixes a layer of insulation material to the external wall, it is then covered with a type of render (plaster work) or cladding.

If you had external wall insulation fitted it’s likely you would have needed a building warrant from your local council's planning department. The Green Deal provider should make you aware that a building warrant may be needed, but the responsibility for applying for it is yours.

If you didn’t get a building warrant and have external wall insulation, you should:

  • contact your local council's planning department to find out if you should have got it. You can find details of Scottish local councils on the my.gov.scot website. You may need to apply for a retrospective decision and your council’s planning department can advise you on this

If the wall insulation was not installed properly or to an acceptable standard and you want to have this corrected you should follow the steps on our page How to complain about your Green Deal energy efficient home improvements.

Other energy efficient home improvements – boilers, double glazing and under-floor heating

Other energy efficient home improvements can include:

  • new boilers
  • double glazing
  • under-floor heating
  • ground source heat pumps.

If you have had any energy efficient home improvements carried out and the products or installation were not to a good standard you can complain to the Green Deal provider. See our page How to complain about your Green Deal energy efficient home improvements.

You’re struggling to pay your Green Deal bills

Paying your Green Deal through your electricity bill is like a loan – but for the property not the person. By agreeing to pay through your electricity bill you entered into a consumer credit agreement with the Green Deal provider. You borrowed money under credit.

If you’re unable to pay your Green Deal payments, you’ll be treated the same as if you are struggling to pay your energy bills.

You should be offered an arrangement to pay off the arrears at a rate you can afford. If you can’t afford to pay off the arrears in this way and you want to keep your gas and electricity supply, you may have to accept the instalment of a pre-payment meter.

For help to take steps to sort out the problem, you can find out more information on our page What to do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills.

The Golden Rule

The Green Deal scheme operated on the basis of “the golden rule”.  This rule is a calculation Green Deal providers use to ensure that the energy savings a property makes must be equal to or more than the cost of implementing the changes in the first place. In essence no one wants to install a measure that won’t pay for itself.

Therefore any Green Deal charges on your electricity bill should be offset against the reduction in the energy charges on your bill. If you believe the Green Deal has overall increased your bills you can check our page How to complain about your Green Deal energy efficient home improvements.

Repaying your Green Deal early

You'll be able to repay the Green Deal early, in part or in full, at any time. However, you might be charged an early repayment charge. You should check with your provider how you can pay it off early and what the charges might be.

Is your Green Deal plan making your bills more expensive?

If your bills have increased since you got the Green Deal plan or the Green Deal provider gave you the wrong information about the costs you can complain. You can follow our steps in How to complain about your Green Deal energy efficient home improvements.

Selling or renting a property with the Green Deal

Because the Green Deal is a loan attached to the electricity supply and not a personal loan, when a new owner or tenant moves into a property with a Green Deal loan they become liable for paying it, provided they have been told about it.

Selling or buying a property with the Green Deal

In order for the Green Deal repayments to transfer to the new owner of a property there are legal requirements that must be met. The requirements are: 

  • when selling, the owner of the property must disclose to the purchaser any Green Deal on the property's electricity supply before they can sell or rent it, and 
  • the purchaser must acknowledge that they have been told about the Green Deal. The lawyers carrying out the sale and purchase should complete these forms in writing
  • if formal disclosure and acknowledgement are not made the purchaser of a property can challenge their obligation to make any Green Deal payments. 

If you bought a house and were not made aware of a Green Deal attached to it you should contact the lawyers who helped you buy your house. You should also raise the issue with the Green Deal provider, and tell them you were not told about the Green Deal. You should be able to find the provider's details from your energy supplier. 

Alternatively, the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will tell you about any Green Deal on the property. You will be given an EPC when you purchase a property.

Renting a property with the Green Deal

The following points should be noted by landlords and tenants:

  • tenants will not be able to sign up to a Green Deal on a rental property without consent of their landlord 
  • landlords will need to get the consent of a sitting tenant in order to sign up to the Green Deal on the rental property's electricity supply.
  • a new tenant must be informed and acknowledge the Green Deal when they move into a property with an existing Green Deal. If you have not been informed you may not be liable for paying it. 

If you have rented a property and were not made aware of a Green Deal attached to it you should contact the landlord and raise the issue with the Green Deal provider. You should be able to find the provider's details from your energy supplier.

Alternatively the Energy performance Certificate will tell you about any Green Deal on the property. You should be given this when you rent a new property.

Can you switch energy supplier whilst on the Green Deal

If you want to change energy supplier you should still be able to do this if you have a Green Deal. You will continue repayments of the Green Deal through your new electricity supplier, provided the new supplier is participating in the Green Deal payment collection system.

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