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One green step for man...

Today DECC announced the first details of the government’s flagship Green Deal initiative, which starts in 2012.  This may sound like a dry statement, but it brings one step closer a funding arrangement that may change the way we get our energy, the way we use our energy, and even our relationships with our houses.

Sound grandiose? The gist is that, as the Guardian described it this morning:

Under the scheme, which it is hoped will be rolled out from next year, all 25m homes in Britain will ultimately be assessed and owners will be offered loans by high street companies for energy-saving measures. Repayments will theoretically be offset for consumers by savings on energy bills, and the debts will be attached to properties rather than individuals.

The surprise in the announcement is the scope of measures it will cover: householders may be able to choose from 23 different technologies, which include not only the expected including cavity-wall insulation and draughtproofing, but also  solar water heating, wood-burning stoves and biomass boilers.

“We are leaving the window open for microgeneration technologies. It could happen in the future,” said Minister of State Greg Barker.

So that’s good news. Of course, the reason people are following the Green Deal’s development so keenly is the importance of getting it right. First, the payback times have to work. The idea is that you pay back the money borrowed to install the meeasures – or rather, your house does – out of the money the measures save you off your energy bills. The debt is owned by your home (though your behaviour will also influence it), so it stays with the property when you move.

The second issue is the entry of high street retailers into the green market, as many of them will be delivering Green Deal loans and even installations. Therefore it’s vital to make sure householders feel they know what they’re getting when familiar stores provide unfamiliar goods.

We’ve already seen this in action: since Feed-in Tariffs came in last year, we’ve seen an increase in calls to our advice centres from people who are interested in green technologies, but when faced with a raft of offers they don’t knowhow to make sure they’re getting the best deal.

Green Deal is even more ambitious and wide-reaching than Feed-in Tariffs – so we afree with Greg Barker that trust is the key. Britain’s future eco-homeowners need to know what they’re getting into from the start. After that, green is go!