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Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus.
Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.

Issue 51 December 2013

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Age Scotland’s guide to Energy Efficiency Programmes

Everybody wants to cut the cost of heating their home, and energy efficiency measures can protect you from the rising cost of energy. We’re often told that people don’t think it will make a real difference but you’ll be surprised how much you could save – and how much more comfortable your home will be as a result.
With such a wide range of support and information available, it can be confusing knowing where to start. That’s why Age Scotland has produced this handy summary of what’s out there so you can make the right choice for you and your home. Being informed is the best way to reach that decision, and this handy guide will give you the confidence to get started.

You may already have benefitted from, or received energy efficiency measures in the past.

However, with fuel bills only seeming to go one way, can you afford not to double-check? Just because you had loft insulation put in years ago, is this actually enough?

Did you know that the recommended depth of loft insulation is 27cm – nearly a foot! If you’re suddenly not sure that you’ve got enough, maybe getting in touch with some of the schemes below isn’t such a bad idea after all!

Help from the Scottish Government

The Scottish Government’s Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) Energy Assistance Scheme provides support which can bring down your fuel bills as well as making it easier to keep your home warm.
This scheme continues many of the elements of the earlier Energy Assistance Package and will tie in with the UK Government’s ‘Green Deal’ programme.

Free home energy check:
So you can find out how energy efficient your home is and what measures would be most suitable for you.

Benefits check:

So you can check whether you are missing out on any benefit entitlements and find out whether you might be entitled to any additional support such as discounts on fuel tariffs.

Everyone can have an assessment, although your personal and financial circumstances are

Basic insulation measures:

If you are eligible, you will be provided with cavity and loft insulation. There are a large number of qualifying criteria under these sections – for example, you or your partner must be a homeowner or the tenant of a private-sector landlord, or 60 or over, with no central heating or a home with a poor energy rating.

To find out further details, call Home Energy
Scotland on 0808 808 2282, or go to www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland/.

Energy efficiency measures:

This could make your home easier and cheaper to heat by making it more energy efficient, up to and including new central heating systems, internal/external wall insulation etc.

Energy Companies

Age Scotland is always concerned when companies increase their bills for customers, especially at a time when incomes and pensions are static at best. However, did you know your energy company can provide a wide range of support to you free of charge, providing you meet certain criteria?

You may have received a letter from your supplier telling you they can save money on your bills.

Who can blame you if you’ve disregarded it in the past! Nevertheless, your supplier can move you to a cheaper tariff, or assist you in getting insulation measures installed free of charge.

Give them a call and ask what support they can provide. You might need to answer some personal questions on your health and finances, but don’t worry – this is so they can assess you for support.

You could end up saving a significant amount, so don’t delay – call your supplier today!

The Green Deal / Energy Company Obligation

If you have been assessed for the Scottish Government’s EAP, the Green Deal could assist you in undertaking home efficiency improvements, such as increased levels of insulation, renewable systems like biomass boilers or solid wall insulation.
The Green Deal provides loans from accredited providers to carry out works to reduce the cost of heating the home. The loan is then repaid through your electricity bill from the ‘saving’ achieved.

The ‘Golden Rule’ of the Green Deal is that the predicted energy savings from works should be greater than the loan repayment amount.

Here’s what you need to do to benefit from the Green Deal

You will need to get an assessment done on your property to find out what kind of improvements you might want to make and what difference they could make to your bills. This will help you decide what measures are most worthwhile.

1. Get an assessment:
A list of approved Assessors can be found on the Government’s Green Deal website, at: www.greendealorb.co.uk/consumersearch.

Some firms will charge for an assessment, while others won’t, so try shopping around.

The Scottish Government may have assistance to cover the cost of assessment, so call Home Energy Scotland to find out what support is available, on 0808 808 2282.

The assessor will provide you with a Green Deal Advice Report, to advise whether these works will ultimately pay for themselves through reductions in your bills.
You can accept as many or as few activities as you wish.

You can use the assessment to organise the work for yourself, or use an accredited Green Deal Provider.

2. Choose a Green Deal Provider:
This is the company who will carry out the works, or arrange for works to be carried out on your behalf. A list of approved Providers is on the Government’s Green Deal website, at: www.greendealorb.co.uk/consumersearch, or call 0300 123 1234.

The provider will detail the cost of works, including the interest you’ll pay if you opt for the Green Deal Finance scheme.
You can get quotes from as many Providers as you want to see who offers the best deal.

Remember – you don’t have to use the Green Deal Finance scheme. You could use savings or a private loan from another lender (see below).

3. Your Green Deal Plan:
If you ask your Green Deal Provider to do the work, you will be required to sign a contract which details the work to be done and what it will cost. The provider will then arrange for an approved Green Deal installer to do the work.

4. Repayment:
Once the work is done, you’ll pay off the money in instalments through your electricity bill.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) will be delivered by both energy companies directly and the Scottish Government, and is available to support those householders living in hard-to-treat homes.

For instance those with solid walls, for whom the ‘Golden Rule’ will not work due to their property type, and those who are in receipt of particular benefits or living in specific low income areas, including certain rural areas. For these people, the ECO will deliver additional or different measures of support to ensure installing energy efficient measures is financially beneficial.

A few important pointers!

Your Green Deal Provider will detail the cost of the works you’ve chosen, and the cost will be shown on your Green Deal Plan (the contract between you and the provider). It will also include the interest rate at which the finance deal will be offered.

You don’t have to use the Green Deal Finance scheme to pay for the works – you can also pay for these via your savings or a separate loan. Think carefully about the interest rates proposed in the Green Deal Finance scheme as some of these could be as high as 10%. Certain conditions, including who you can call if something goes wrong, will differ depending on what finance you used. Remember that interest rates are historically low, so think about the best option for you and what option provides the best rate for you over the lifetime of the loan. If you’re still paying it off, would you be better adding the cost of works to your mortgage? There’s no obligation to take up the Green Deal Finance scheme, so where the money comes from is up to you!

If you want help to compare your financial options contact the Money Advice Service at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk or call 0300 500 5000.
Check Age Scotland’s website to see how the Green Deal finance could work in practice.

When you get an energy efficiency report for your home, it might recommend improving your property’s insulation before adopting more complex systems, such as renewable heating systems.

Look first at programmes which will give you adequate loft insulation, double or triple glazed windows and solid or cavity wall insulation. Once you know the heat you’re generating is less likely to escape, you can start thinking about those more complex renewable heating systems.

If you’re unclear about what’s best for you, call Home Energy Scotland
on 0808 808 2282.

The small print!
The money will be paid back through the electricity bill for your property.
So, if you move house, you’re no longer responsible for paying for works.
If you move into a property with a Green Deal, the landlord or seller must notify you and provide details of the works done. You’ll be responsible for taking on the repayments for the loan, although the energy bills should be much lower in the property.

You can change your electricity supplier over the period of the loan repayment, but the new supplier must be participating in the Green Deal. This does mean that once signed up to the Green Deal, you’ll be slightly more limited when switching between energy suppliers. However, the 6 largest suppliers and some smaller ones are participating in the Green Deal.

You can pay off your Green Deal early, but you might be charged a fee – check your contract.

This may be particularly relevant if you’re moving house, as the buyer and/or estate agent may ask for the Green Deal to be paid off.

If you’re claiming benefits, are on a low income or live in an old property, you may be able to get help with costs.
Contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 to find out.

Age Scotland, part of the Age Network, is an independent charity dedicated to improving the later lives of everyone on the ageing journey, within a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in Scotland. Registration Number:
153343 Charity Number SC010100
Telephone: 0845 833 0200


(Apologies to Age Scotland for any mis-quotes in this information) 
Mae Stewart


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