Friday, 19 February 2010

Green is the Colour of Money

I had a visit from a 'Green Energy' assessor this afternoon.  Lovely chap, in fact one of the most pleasant salesmen I've ever met.  He assures me if I install solar power panels to heat my water, a biomass stove to heat my favourite room and an air heat pump system (to replace my 18-month-old condensing boiler), I will receive thousands of pounds back from the government.  Yes, that's right, the government will pay me for my hot water and heating.  They will refund me specific amounts per kilowatt for the various systems I install.

Also I was informed that grants towards such installations will finish in April so it's best I apply for them now and they can be deferred. (Grants can be had through the Energy Savings Trust I'm informed).

I'm writing this before I've done much research but I did struggle to understand why, if I installed solar panels to heat my water, the government would pay me for being a good girl.  Doesn't make sense to me but the salesman explained the government need to meet their Kyoto targets and this is the carrot before the big stick of vastly increased utility bills drop through our letter boxes.

There's a bit of a catch I think though because it seems you have to use a 'recognised' installer to receive the approximate 30% grant (maximum claim £4,000).  Having been caught before by one of these government grants, I'm reluctant to try it again.  A couple of years ago I thought my loft insulation required upgrading.  The surveyor duly arrived but wouldn't give me a quote on the cost and waffled on reading from a typed sheet he had on his clipboard.  When I asked if I could copy it his face registered a horror which wasn't that far removed from what I would have expected if I'd asked him to have sex with me right there and then on the lobby floor.

Now I'm off to check out his recommendations and I await his estimate emails with interest.  By my reckoning if I invest around £50,000 now then I should recover the cost by 2040!

Just to keep the record straight there's no way I could consider that amount of investment. Even if I had the money it's an expensive business reducing your carbon footprint and certainly I have yet to be convinced about the talk that I will destroy the planet within a couple of generations).  Perhaps if I was 30 years younger I'd look at it from a different angle.  By the time I die will a non-solar, non-air pump, non-biomass stove home be worth just a pittance?  For the sake of my inheritors I hope not.

Though I admit, if I believed all I was told this morning, then green is the colour of money to us consumers.  Why don't I believe it?


Joseph Takagi said...

Solar in the UK is a scam. Every few years, the panels have to be cleaned which means erecting a scaffold and getting a company out to clean it. The cost of that is more than the energy savings.

(this is from a friend who works in the insulation business)

Cavity wall and loft insulation are the 2 things worth doing, and when you change your window, getting them double glazed.

Barking Spider said...

Ah, yes, the old "government grant" story, SR, apart from anything else, you just know that the money will be stuck in a government account somewhere or, perhaps, never be forthcoming at all because of the fast-aproaching double dip in the current recession - probably due around March/April.

That will be why Brown is again considering a snap election in March before it all hits the fan.

JT, above, makes a very valid point. ;-)

subrosa said...

Hello Joseph. Many thanks for your comment. I already have the two things you say are worth doing so I'll keep my meagre pension savings in the bank. Thanks.

subrosa said...

BS, he let me see a 'press print out' of money I would receive per kw for each installation. Strange he wouldn't let me copy it and said he'd email it to me.

I persisted and asked where it came from ie the Scottish or Westminster government yet I had no reply. Just wonder how many people are fleeced by this.

Amusing Bunni said...

Hi Subrosa: I think this is a scam! You have a new boiler basically, and what happens on cloudy days? You have a lot of those ;-)

I'd stick w/ what I had, but maybe your research will prove otherwise, I doubt it. Anything the gov't recommends, esp. liebour, has to be BAD!

Ps Thanks for your nice comment. Have a super weekend.

subrosa said...

Hi Bunni. Yes it is a scam, especially for folk over 60 who will possibly never get a reasonable return for vast investment.

Much as I'd love one of these biomass stoves (mainly because it would look great in the garden room) I'm not going to be conned. Hope others aren't either.

subrosa said...

You have a great weekend too Bunni. Relax a little and take it easy.

Surreptitious Evil said...

We have a "biomass" fire in the living room and are looking at putting a "biomass" stove into another room. We generally burn the massive, biological fuels of wood and peat, occasionally assisted by any remaining biological wine corks.

subrosa said...

I like the idea of one SE, but you only get a grant if you buy one which starts electronically. It can be switched on from miles away so as it's warm when you get home. Sounds like something from a si-fi film.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Rosa - leave the grants well alone, they usually end up in the contractors pocket.

And I'll bet your seeing little or no benefit from your condensing boiler.
They claim between 12 - 16% higher efficiency but in reality it's more like 6% and that's in perfect test-bed conditions. Use a lot of baths or let the pet out for a pee and your into the downside.

Fact is the build standard of homes in Scotland can't match those of Scandinavia. Until they do we will have to use energy to stay warm and they won't push the standard up because of the adverse effect that will have on the housing market or the developers profit.

Fact is build a well insulated house adds £5k to its price. To insulate properly an existing house add £20k.

subrosa said...

I do see a result from the condensing boiler RA mainly because I'm not heating a whole tank full of water to sit in the attic.

Insulation is expensive in an old house as I know to my cost but worth it. The new boiler has kept the house warmer this year, but the cost I have yet to see.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

I didn't think it was that old Rosa when you mentioned you had cavity walls?

My gas/electric bills for the last three months have averaged £220 per month. And I've a wood burner to add to that.

I did a check the other day and from Jan 2006 to Jan 2010 gas has increased in cost by circa 75%. Don't know about you, but I'm completely baffled how that and the miasma of billions and trillion we hear about so readily of late, relate to 1-2% inflation?

Unless inflation only relates to the aspirations of the hoi-polloi.

subrosa said...

No I don't have cavity wall insulation RA. Half this place is pre 1850s and half 1990. I don't qualify for a grant for cavity wall insulation but I don't need it really as the 'new' part is well insulated anyway.

My bills will possibly be similar to yours but I've no stove.

You're right about the increases. I phoned my supplier at the end of last year to say I'd installed a boiler which was supposed to increase efficiency by 40% yet I was paying the same as I was in winter 2008. For once the person on the other end of the phone was helpful and he went through each rise with the date and my bills which corresponded.

So the new boiler is helping but like you, I can't understand why inflation is so low, particularly when you include the high cost of fuel.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

When you think about it Rosa it adds another factor to the joys of spring.

The simple fact you won't be filling the coffers of the utility Barons for a few months.

subrosa said...

That's true RA. British Gas made half a billion profit. Unbelievable!!

Joe Public said...

1. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

2. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

subrosa said...

You're right Joe but I wonder how many are taken in by this 'green' business?

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