Trading standards advice over government energy scheme

A woman cautiously answers her front door
A woman cautiously answers her front door

TRADING standards officials in East Renfrewshire have issued a warning about potential scams operating in England thanks to a new government initiative.

The warning follows reports south of the border of scammers exploiting the government’s Green Deal energy efficiency scheme.

The initiative allows householders to finance home improvements to make their homes more energy-efficient, without paying the costs out upfront.

Repayments are made through the household energy bill, and authorised providers carry out the work, which could include a new central heating system, cavity wall and loft insulation or double glazing.

East Renfrewshire council’s senior trading standards officer Paul Holland explained: “It is essential that you do your own research to select an established and reputable trader if you are interested in the Green Deal.

“Ignore sales patter and don’t make rash decisions on the doorstep. Follow our tips and make an informed decision.”

Tips for the trading standards team are listed below - meanwhile, No Cold Calling stickers are available from the council, to be used as a deterrant for doorstep callers, who could face prosecution if they choose to ignore it.

To find out more, call 0800 0130076.

Trading standard tips on the Green Deal scheme:

1. Contact the Energy Saving Scotland Advice Centre on 0800 512 012 or www.energysavingtrust for info on the Green Deal.

2. Don’t base your decision on sales patter, look at the written agreement and do your own research.

3. Don’t sign up to contracts following uninvited sales calls.

4. Check you are dealing with an accredited assessor and installer. Check out www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures

5. Remember that (increased) changes in your energy consumption will affect any potential savings you make on your energy bills following the improvements.

6. Report ALL cold callers who ignore ‘No Cold Calling’ stickers or zones on 0800 0130076

7. Consider the interest rate and total repayment costs for Green Deal improvements, then, compare this amount with alternative finance options (unconnected to Green Deal), such as paying the cost of the work from personal savings or arranging an alternative financial quote for energy efficiency improvements from other financial institutions.

8. It’s not free: you pay a finance agreement for the installation against your energy bill over a long term predetermined period, the saving on your bills will hopefully pay for the installation cost, but it’s not guaranteed.

9. Consider the effect on a future sale of your property; the new owner(s) must continue to pay the Green Deal element on your energy bill as payments are connected to the house, not the individual.

10. Be aware that penalty charges for paying off any Green Deal finance early, may indeed apply, ask about this when the assessor provides you with the details of the scheme.