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Problems with your Green Deal energy efficient home improvements - Citizens Advice Scotland
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Problems with your Green Deal energy efficient home improvements

This advice applies to Scotland

Some people have problems with solar panels and other energy-saving home improvements they got through the Green Deal. Find out about common issues with the Green Deal and what you can do about it. 

Check if you've got the Green Deal 

The Green Deal was a UK Government scheme from 2013 to 2015. The UK Government stopped funding the Green Deal scheme in July 2015. However, some private companies have continued to offer Green Deal finance.

Green Deal loans were sold to customers to pay for energy saving home improvements. The loan is paid back in instalments through your electricity bill.

You might have been sold:

  • solar panels
  • a new boiler
  • external wall insulation or wall cladding
  • cavity wall insulation
  • double glazing windows
  • under-floor heating.

Some people didn’t know they had signed up to the Green Deal or weren’t told it was a loan that had to be paid back. If this happened to you, you can complain.

You'll need to know your Green Deal plan ID and who your Green Deal provider is. The provider is the company that sold you the Green Deal loan. 

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

  • a signed credit agreement with the Green Deal provider
  • an annual statement of what you’ve paid and what you still owe for your Green Deal loan
  • your electricity bill showing payments for the Green Deal. 

If you’re not sure if you have the Green Deal, check this with your energy supplier. You can ask for a statement of what you owe.

Check if you can complain about your Green Deal

Did Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd (HELMS) sell energy efficient home improvements to you? HELMS are now dissolved but we believe scammed some of their customers, who now have higher energy bills, missing building warrants and other problems. Check HELMS and Green Deal complaints.

If you have problems with your Green Deal finance or energy efficient home improvements you can complain. You might be able to get your Green Deal reduced or written-off, for example. 

You can complain about the Green Deal if you:

  • were mis-sold the Green Deal - for example, you were misled about the costs and savings, or told the loan was free
  • have higher energy bills after getting the Green Deal
  • have a problem with the credit agreement or the payment plan 
  • have a problem with warranties for the products you bought - a warranty is a company’s written promise to repair or replace faulty goods 
  • were sold the wrong products for your property and don’t get the benefits you were expecting
  • aren’t happy with the standard of work or products
  • transferred your solar panel feed-in tariff (FIT) as well as getting a Green Deal loan - you might not have been aware of this
  • have Green Deal finance and another loan that you didn’t need, for the same work.

There might be other reasons to complain, depending on your circumstances. Check below for specific problems with products like solar panels. 

Problems with solar panels and the feed-in tariff

If you had solar panels fitted you might have experienced the following problems. If you have, you can complain. 

You didn't 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 don't have to do everything the EPC suggests.

Your roof isn't suitable for solar panels

Not every home can have solar panels attached to the roof. 

The installer of the PV solar panels should assess and explain to you if the angle and position of your roof is suitable. Some Green Deal providers didn’t check this or told clients that their roof was suitable when it wasn’t.

Home Energy Scotland provides free and impartial advice. You can contact them if you want to carry out your own research to see whether your solar panels are suitable for your home. 

You didn't get a building warrant

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 might be needed. 

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.

Your electricity meter isn't compatible

Some solar panels are not wired correctly. If you have any concerns you should contact the installer and or an independent electrician to examine the wiring to make sure it's safe.

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're 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're 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 under schedule 7 of the Electricity Act 1989. 

You transferred the feed-in tariff for your solar panels

The Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme is a government programme to encourage people to install products that generate electricity, like solar panels. You can find out more about the FIT scheme on the Ofgem website. 

The owner of the FIT will get payments from energy suppliers for 20 years and the tariff is index linked. 

You can find details about the FIT rates on Ofgem’s FIT rates page.

There are two parts to the tariff payment:

  1. the generation tariff - a payment for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity produced, whether the owner uses it or not
  2. the export tariff - a payment for every kWh of electricity that is not used and is exported to the national grid.

Consumers could pay for the cost of installing solar panels either with a loan like the Green Deal or by transferring ownership of their FIT to the installer. 

Check if you own your FIT

If you own your FIT, you should get annual or quarterly payments for the energy made by your solar panels. If you don’t get payments, it’s likely someone else owns your FIT.

The Green Deal provider might have got you to transfer ownership of your FIT to another company.

You might have signed an agreement called a 'transfer of rights'. You might also have documents that say your FIT was 'assigned to' another company. 

You might not have been told you were transferring ownership of your FIT or told what you were signing. If this happened, you can complain. 

How to get your FIT back

If you get the FIT back, you will get payments for the energy your solar panels make for the time remaining on your scheme. 

If you’re selling a house with FIT and the buyer doesn’t want the FIT to sit with another company, you might need to think about buying it back. 

If you want to get the FIT back for your solar panels, you can:

  • complain - you should complain to the FIT owner if you believe you were misled into signing away your FIT
  • buy it back - contact the FIT owner to discuss this directly with them. 

You should check if buying back the FIT will be financially worthwhile. Check your statement for how much the payments would be and how long you’ll get them for. It might not be worth buying back the FIT if it will cost more than your payments will be. 

Problems with external wall insulation or cladding

External wall insulation fixes a layer of insulation material to the external wall. It's 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 you should:

If the wall insulation was not installed properly or to an acceptable standard and you want to have this corrected you can also complain. 

Problems with 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.

If your bills are more expensive after Green Deal

The Green Deal scheme operated on the basis of "the golden rule". This rule is a calculation Green Deal providers use to make sure 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 complain. 

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.

Selling or renting a property with the Green Deal

The Green Deal is a loan attached to the electricity supply rather than a personal loan. This means 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.

Buying or selling a home 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 tell the buyer about any Green Deal on the property's electricity supply before they can sell or rent it, and 
  • the buyer 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 buyer of a property can challenge their obligation to make any Green Deal payments. 

If you bought a house and weren't told about 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 buy a property.

Renting a property with the Green Deal

Tenants can't sign up to a Green Deal on a rental property without the consent of their landlord. 

Landlords need 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 might not be liable for paying it.

If you weren't told about a Green Deal attached to a home you rent, contact the landlord and raise the issue with the Green Deal provider. You can get 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 if you have 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.

Next steps: how to complain about your Green Deal

If you've identified a problem with your Green Deal, you can complain. Find out how to complain

If your Green Deal provider was HELMS, you'll need to follow a different complaints process. Find out how to complain about HELMS

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