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HELMS (Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Ltd) and Green Deal concerns and complaints

This advice applies to Scotland

Who are HELMS

HELMS were a Scottish company who sold energy efficient home improvements such as:

  • Solar panels
  • External wall insulation / cladding
  • Under-floor heating
  • New boilers.

HELMS are now in liquidation - this means they are no longer in business and aren't trading. Many of their customers have told us they did not know HELMS were signing them up to the Green Deal or what the financial impact was of the Green Deal. As a result many HELMS customers now face higher energy bills, energy debts, secondary loans, faulty goods, missing building warrants and problems selling their property.

Did HELMS scam you

To find out whether you were scammed, check the common warning signs first.

Then check for specific problems if you have:

Common warning signs that you were scammed

If you believe you were scammed by HELMS you can follow our complaints process, detailed below or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for help to complain.

HELMS told you the energy improvements would be free

HELMS may have told you the solar panels, wall cladding or other products were free. You may have received a grant which contributed to the total cost but did not cover the full amount.

HELMS signed you up to the Green Deal 

HELMS may have signed you up to the Green Deal to pay for the products. This is a loan which you pay back in instalments through your energy bills. It isn’t free. You may only have realised this when you started to get more expensive energy bills. You can find out more about what the Green Deal is on our page Green Deal funding for energy efficient home improvements.

Customers of HELMS have advised us that they did not know what the Green Deal was and that HELMS had signed them up to the Green Deal loan.

We are also aware from customers that HELMS did not always explain the Green Deal finance properly such as what the monthly repayments would be and the length of the loan.

If HELMS did not explain the Green Deal and how much you were borrowing and how you would pay it back you can complain.

HELMS told some customers they had to get ALL the improvements detailed in the EPC in order to qualify for a grant or for the Green Deal finance. As a result you may have felt pressured into having work carried out you did not originally intend to have done.

You signed the credit agreements relating to the Green Deal without full understanding

Did you sign the Green Deal credit agreement? Do you have all the paperwork for your Green Deal loan? Did you know what you were signing? 

Can you tell from the paperwork and loans how much you are paying for the solar panels, wall insulation and other products. Is this amount the same as what HELMS said it would cost? 

Do you have another loan sold to you by HELMS

Were you told by HELMS you needed another loan or to make an upfront payment to pay for the solar panels, wall cladding or other products?

Some customers of HELMS were signed up to finance arrangements with other companies as well as a Green Deal loan. Details of all the ways you paid for the solar panels, wall cladding or any other products HELMS sold to you should be put into a complaint.

HELMS sold you solar panels

We have detailed some of the typical problems customers of HELMS have reported to us when they were sold solar panels by HELMS. If you find these apply to you then you can follow the complaints process detailed below.

Did you agree to the Green Deal finance agreement for the solar panels

If you believe you were mis-led about the Green Deal and you would not have signed up to it if you had known all the facts, then you can complain. Here are some examples from HELMS customers of what HELMS salespeople said to them:

  • HELMS said the solar panels would be free and they were unknowingly signed up by HELMS to the Green Deal loan
  • HELMS did not tell them the Green Deal was a form of credit that would have monthly repayments for a number of years, sometimes up to 25 years
  • HELMS asked them to take out other finance to pay for the solar panels
  • HELMS asked them to transfer the feed-in tariff (FIT) to another company and did not explain what the feed-in tariff was.

Is your electricity meter compatible with the solar panels?

We are aware of some 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 meters will work correctly with solar panels. HELMS should have ensured your meter was working correctly at recording both energy usage and the energy being generated.

If you are concerned that the savings on your energy bills are not what you expected and that your meter may not be accurate, you should contact your energy supplier.

Once your energy supplier is aware that your 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. 

Building warrants for solar panels

You don’t always 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. 

You can check with your local council to find out if you needed a building warrant.

Did you transfer your feed-in tariff (FIT) for the solar panels

HELMS asked many of their customers to transfer their feed-in tariff (FIT) to another company, such as PV Solar Investments Ltd who have the same director as HELMS.

If you transferred the feed-in tariff, this could have been a way of paying for the solar panels. Consumers can sometimes pay for solar panels with either a loan such as a Green Deal or by transferring their feed-in tariff to the installer, but usually not by both methods. HELMS may have used both methods with their consumers, which may have been unnecessary.

What is the feed-in tariff

The feed-in tariff scheme is a government programme aimed at encouraging people to install energy generation measures, such as solar panels. It is paid to anyone who owns and registers a renewable electricity system. 

You receive annual or quarterly payments for your feed-in tariff. If you do not receive any payments it is unlikely you own your feed-in tariff. 

How much is the feed-in tariff 

Tariffs are paid to the customers who own the feed-in tariff 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 tariff. 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.

What you can do if you don't own your feed-in tariff (FIT)

If you transferred the FIT for your solar panels to HELMS or PV Solar Investments Ltd (PVSI) then it will have been registered by PVSI and PVSI will collect the quarterly payments for the energy your solar panels generate for up to 20 years. You may have signed an agreement called a "Transfer of rights to payments to PV Solar Investments Ltd". 

You should include copies of any paperwork relating to the FIT and details of how HELMS explained it to you and why they said you needed to transfer it, in any complaint you make. 

You may want to contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for further help or advice.

HELMS sold you external wall insulation / cladding

We have detailed below some of the typical problems customers of HELMS have reported to us with external wall insulation / cladding. If you find any of these apply to you, then you can complain by following our complaints process detailed below.

Did you agree to the Green Deal finance agreement for the wall cladding / insulation

If you believe you were mis-led about the Green Deal plan and you would not have signed up to it if you had known all the facts, then you can complain. Here are some examples from HELMS customers of what HELMS salespeople said to them about the wall cladding:

  • HELMS said the wall cladding / insulation would be free and they were unknowingly signed up by HELMS to the Green Deal loan
  • HELMS did not tell them the Green Deal was a form of credit that would have monthly repayments for a number of years, sometimes up to 25 years
  • HELMS asked them to take out other finance to pay for the wall cladding.

Do you have a building warrant for your external wall cladding / insulation

When external wall cladding / insulation is fitted it usually requires a building warrant issued by your local council. HELMS may have told you that you did not need one or that they would apply for the building warrant. 

We are aware of customers who HELMS did not get a building warrant for. If HELMS fitted your wall insulation and you don't believe you have a building warrant, you may want to contact your local council or your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice about what to do now.

If you do not have a building warrant but now realise you need one you can include details of this in your complaint.

Your wall cladding was poorly fitted

HELMS may have not correctly fitted your wall cladding / insulation and did not correct the problems.

The company that supplied the wall insulation materials to HELMS should have issued you with a guarantee. If you have the guarantee this should tell you the name of the company. You can contact them about your wall cladding issues.

HELMS sold you other energy efficiency products

HELMS may have sold you:

  • under-floor heating
  • energy efficient light bulbs
  • new boiler
  • new radiators.

If they told you these would be free or did not explain the Green Deal loan or that there would be monthly repayments through your energy bill, then you can complain.  

If the energy efficient measures they installed were not carried out properly you can contact the company who issued you with a guarantee. 

HELMS sold you more than one finance agreement

Did HELMS sell you any other finance agreements connected to your energy efficiency improvements? These may not be with HELMS but will have been taken out at the same time probably with the HELMS salesperson.

If you have more than one credit agreement for any of the energy efficient measures HELMS installed you should include details of all the credit agreements HELMS sold you with your HELMS complaint.

If you were pressured into agreeing to another credit agreement you can complain directly to the company the credit agreement is with. You can visit our page to find out more about being misled or pressured into buying something.

How to complain about HELMS

You can either complain to the Green Deal Finance Company or the Secretary of State. In both cases, it can take 6-12 months or possibly longer, for your complaint to be handled.

Complaining to the Green Deal Finance Company

If you choose to complain to GDFC, you should email the GDFC customerhelp@gdfcassets.org to establish the format you should complain in. You can find more information on the GDFC website.

When you get to the stage of submitting your complaint you should include as much detail as possible. Write down what the salesperson said to you, what you believe is wrong and say how you want the GDFC to fix the issues.  

The possible outcomes to your complaint are:

  • to be offered a full write off of your Green Deal and any liability for the credit and a refund of any payments made
  • to be offered a partial reduction of your Green Deal. Any remaining balance would still require to be paid through your electricity bill for the remaining term of your Green Deal
  • to be offered a settlement figure - i.e. if you pay an agreed sum now you will incur no further interest charges and your liability for Green Deal will be discharged on receipt of payment
  • for your complaint to be rejected - the GDFC can reject your complaint and you will have to continue to make the re-payments. However, you can appeal this decision to the Secretary of State.

Challenging a decision from the Green Deal Finance Company

If you have already contacted the GDFC and would like to challenge their decision, the Secretary of State is the final recourse.

To get the Secretary of State to review your case, you can contact them using this example letter [Word 16 kb] and the contact details at the bottom of this page.

Complaining to the Secretary of State

You can submit your complaint directly to the Secretary of State for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy.

You do not need to submit a complaint to the GDFC prior to contacting the Secretary of State.

You can write to them using this example letter [Word 26 kb] and the following contact details:

Green Deal Team
6th Floor, 1 Victoria Street,
London
SW1H 0ET 
Email: gdconsumers@beis.gov.uk

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