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UK Homeowners To Get Green Grants

A new system to help homebuyers get green grants worth hundreds of pounds to lower their fuel bills and make their homes greener has been announced today, linked to the introduction of Home Information Packs and Energy Performance Certificates.

Most people are unaware that there are typical grants of £100 to £300 grants for cut price loft and cavity wall insulation. The programme is expanding next year so even more home buyers will be able to benefit from hundreds of pounds off insulation.

Measures recommended in the EPC could save the average consumer £300 a year off their fuel bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

With EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) being introduced today - giving home-buyers a home energy rating, the system will make it easier for consumers to get grants to make the improvements recommended in the certificates.

For the first time, the six major energy companies have agreed that when buyers move into their home and sign up to an energy contract they will get immediate access and information about 'green' grants or offers to consumers. This follows talks with the Government and will help them make their home more environmentally friendly and cut fuel bills.

In addition, the scheme will include a new portal on the Energy Saving Trust’s website where consumers only need to tap in their postcode to find details of offers available. Once fully rolled out it is estimated that the energy certificates would save nearly a million tonnes of carbon per year by 2020.

Consumers who choose to give details from their EPC to suppliers will also receive targeted offers for recommendations in their certificate. This information will not be used for any other purpose and cannot be given to anyone else by the supplier.

The offers are funded by energy suppliers and other partners, with their investment in ‘green grants’ increasing to £2.5 billion over the next three years from April 2008, compared to £1 billion over the last three years.

EPCs are being introduced today as part of Home Information Packs, starting with four bedroom homes and above. The certificates will give consumers energy ratings for homes of A-G, similar to consumer friendly fridge ratings.

A snapshot of leading estate agents shows that most will offer a HIP for around £300 to £350 plus VAT - £200 to £250 of which is already paid for in the current system.

Some estate agents will be offering them for free or as part of their ordinary fees.

The introduction of HIPs is already leading to search prices coming down for consumers, with nearly fifty local authorities having already reduced what they charge consumers for searches, in some cases by more than £100.

Increased competition and transparency as result of HIPs is expected to reduce costs further.

The Government will monitor HIPs closely to ensure the benefits are being passed on to the consumer, with a new consumer panel being set up as part of a wider programme of action to make the home buying and selling process work in the interests of consumers.

The introduction of HIPs in August when the market is normally quieter, with fewer homes for sale, will help to support the smooth transition.

Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said:

“Energy certificates have the potential to cut family fuel bills by hundreds of pounds. But it can still be a real hassle getting the work done. Most people don’t know these grants are available or don’t know how to apply for them. This means it should be much easier for homebuyers to get help to cut their fuel bills and carbon emissions too. It could save hundreds of pounds on insulation and hundreds of pounds on their fuel bills too.”

Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said:

“Our Green Barometer shows that more than half of people want tailored advice on energy saving. Energy Performance Certificates will make it easier for people to identify the simple things they can do in their home to reduce their energy consumption. More people will be reached now that energy companies are being proactive in providing information to householders on grants available to them.”

Friends of the Earth campaigner Dave Timms said:

“We’re delighted that Energy Performance Certificates are finally up and running. EPCs will give homeowners information which, if they act on it, will help them tackle climate change and save money on home energy bills.”

Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK-BC (Green Building Council), has said:

“It’s really very simple. We will fail to prevent the worst effects of climate change unless we make huge improvements to the energy efficiency of our existing homes. The new Energy Performance Certificates provide an essential tool for doing this. By showing people, for the first time, how their homes rate in terms of energy consumption, and giving them user-friendly advice about the most cost-effective ways of improving their performance, we can all be equipped to do something meaningful to tackle climate change.”

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