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Ben Holbrook
Ben Holbrook

Large scale carbon cutting – is the Green Deal the answer?

The Green Deal is a government initiative set to launch in the UK in October of 2012. It is designed to encourage business and home owners to install more green technologies in their offices and homes. Essentially, the Green Deal will pay all upfront installation costs, and users will pay back the money through savings on their energy bills, over a set period of time. Funding can be used for energy insulations such as loft, wall, double glazed windows and energy efficient doors. As well as insulation measures, the Green Deal will also fund home energy generation systems, such as air and ground source heat pumps.

It is simpler to look at the problem first and then further discuss the initiative. So what exactly is the issue in hand?

The problem

There has been a lot of media hype about cutting the carbon over recent years. But what exactly does this mean? Who should be cutting the carbon? Why should we be cutting the carbon? What carbon?

What they mean by ‘carbon cutting’, is cutting the carbon output from our businesses and homes. When you burn a fossil fuel, you produce Carbon Dioxide (CO2). CO2 is a waste product and has been linked to global warming—a temperature increase of our planet. There can be devastating results if this issue continues to be ignored by the general public.

The government plans to cut CO2 emissions by 34% between 1990 and 2020, and the Green Deal initiative is the newest attempt to reach the public and make them aware of the problem.

How it works

There is not much required from your part. All you will have to do is approach a Green Deal certified installer. They will carry out an assessment of your property and report on the potential improvements. Energy savings must be greater than the costs of improvements so you can pay back the Green Deal loan. It really is that simple.

Costs and the “Golden Ruleâ€

The major worry for property owners, as always, is the cost of all of this. The people behind the Green Deal have created the process in a way that protects property owners from paying back more than they can afford. The "Golden Rule" states that the energy savings a property makes in a 25 year period must be equal to, or more than the cost of implementing the changes in the first place. This ensures that the property owner is not paying back more to partake in the Green Deal than they are saving on their energy bills.

Although it is difficult to predict energy costs in the future, Green Deal tries its best to ensure financial protection for property owners. Remember, the goal of the Green Deal is not to make money; it is to cut the UK’s carbon emissions.

So what’s happening now?

The current issue is awareness. Although the process seems fairly simple, the difficult task is to get people on board. Reaching the government’s planned carbon cut of 34% by 2020 will mean that over 14 million homes will need to be involved in the Green Deal.

What home and business owners are wary of is the actual savings. This is because the Green Deal will use the difference in the reduced energy bills as a payback method from property owners. Other barriers that may put people off the Green Deal, include the fact that many property owners simply can’t be bothered. This ‘hassle factor’ is said to be one of the reasons why people have never taken up the government’s home improvement schemes, even when they were 100% free. Concerns have been raised that the Green Deal is too difficult to understand for many British families. For this reason it is widely agreed that the Green Deal’s success lies in the hands of the small, qualified providers that will be at the forefront of the scheme. Reputation and trust will underpin the Green Deal, but only if the government get it right from the very beginning.

Regardless of money or economic status, the UK has a global responsibility to reduce its carbon footprint – the Green Deal is not the first attempt at revamping the country, and something tells me that it won’t be the last.

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Definitely agree that awareness is the biggest issue. If more people knew the big picture impacts this would have, hopefully more people would be concerned.

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