Industry watchdogs reported that some four million people in the UK complained about their energy company in 2011. Many of the complaints were about the rise in cost of gas and electricity over the last few years.
It is costing more and more to heat our homes, and many people are taking steps to insulate their homes more effectively to reduce heat loss and improve energy efficiency.
Insulating your home can save substantial amounts on heating bills and there are several different ways to reduce energy consumption in your home.
Loft insulation can prevent heat loss through the roof, while cavity wall insulation will improve the thermal efficiency of your property and could save over £100 per year on your heating bill.
You can also insulate the floors, install double glazing and insulate your hot water tank and water pipes to realise further savings.
The government has pledged to reduce overall carbon emissions and has introduced legislation for the energy industry, which requires electricity and gas suppliers to provide grants for customers to help with energy saving improvements to their homes; which will in turn reduce carbon emissions.
There are also several government funded initiatives which can offer financial help for energy efficient improvements.
There are a variety of options when it comes to paying for energy saving home improvements and how you choose to finance your insulation will depend on what type of insulation you are installing, the size of the property and the overall cost of the insulation.
Your personal circumstances will dictate whether you are eligible for any grants or offers to help with the cost.
Loans, mortgages and credit cards
One way to finance insulation is to get a personal loan, use a credit card, or re-mortgage your house to pay for it. This could be an option for the more expensive types of insulation such as double glazing where you might expect to pay several thousand pounds, but you should think carefully before putting home improvements on finance like this.
Whichever type of credit you choose, you are bound to be paying interest and you should consider whether the savings are worth the initial cost.
If you are staying in your home for a long time then you may feel the benefits are worth paying a little extra for and you will have plenty of time to reap the rewards of cheaper bills.
Cheaper types of insulation will pay for themselves quickly over a few years by the savings you see on your heating bills.
A small amount of finance may be worth the investment as the savings could offset the interest you pay. You may even be able to find a company (such as Dyson insulation) offering “green loans” tailored to lending you money to install insulation in your home.
Grants and offers
There are a wide variety of grants and offers available to consumers for energy saving measures in their homes and you should check your availability for each to see if you can receive financial help.
The government introduced the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target in 2008, which gives targets to energy companies for levels of carbon emissions and obliges them to help consumers with the cost of energy saving products.
Most energy companies offer discounted or free insulation for people over 70 years of age or people on qualifying benefits. The initiative is backed by the government and the scheme enables customers to claim grants from any energy supplier, even if it is not their own.
A free phone number for a local advisory service will give you more details about the grants – 0800 512 012
The government’s warm front scheme offers government insulation grants of £3,500 (£6,000 where oil or alternative heating is used) to people on benefits related to their income and who live in homes with insufficient heating or insulation. The grants can be used for any of the following energy saving improvements:
- Draught proofing
- Loft insulation
- Hot water tank insulation
- Cavity wall insulation
- Gas, LPG, electric or oil heating
- Glass fronted firesThose who are eligible for the scheme are people who are receiving benefits such as pension credits or a pay related employment and support benefit.
The government website states that others who may qualify include people who are receiving income support or income based jobseekers allowance, but they must meet at least one qualifying condition: that they are in receipt of a pensioner’s premium, are in receipt of a disability benefit, are in receipt of child tax credits which include an element for a disabled child, or are caring for a child under five.
As well as meeting the requirements to qualify for the grants, the household must also live in a property which does not have central heating or a sufficient heating system, or does not have enough insulation.
In late 2012 the government will introduce another initiative designed to encourage people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, thus reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Green loans will be available to pay for the cost of installing insulation, but instead of making repayments like a normal loan, the charges are taken through your meter and are paid back via your fuel bill.
The advantage to this kind of finance is that the improvements should save money on your energy bills, which will directly offset the repayments on the initial outlay.
When you move out of the house you cease to be responsible for the repayments and it is intended that the new owner will take on the finance as they are benefitting from the improved efficiency of the home.
If you are looking to save money on your heating bills by installing insulation into your home, you need to consider how you are going to finance the cost of the materials and installation.
If you are confident with DIY you may be able to save money by doing the work yourself. If you are paying for the installation there are several grants that you may be able to claim through energy companies and the government and it is worth finding out if you are eligible before deciding how to pay for the improvements.