By Isabella Kaminski
British Gas has launched a new scheme allowing customers to install efficient boilers, insulation and solar panels at no upfront cost or with a small deposit with repayments being paid over the next five, 10 or 15 years. The Home Energy Plan is the first project under the UK government’s Green Deal.
Possible household improvements include cavity wall and loft insulation and voltage optimisation units which save electricity. Energy generation technology will also be available to customers under the plan including solar panels, air source heat pumps and a new generation of boiler that also generates electricity for use in the home.
The monthly repayments will be highlighted on the customer’s energy bill. Customers can choose a finance plan which sees monthly repayments covered by the savings made by being more energy efficient.
Jon Kimber, Managing Director of British Gas New Energy, says: “We know that household budgets are stretched at the moment but rising energy prices don’t have to mean higher bills."
Meanwhile, First Utility has joined forces with US efficiency and smart grid software company Opower to run a consumer energy saving programme in 2012.
First Utility, which offers smart meters to all its customers, will use Opower's software platform to translate its customer's smart meter data into a range of new energy-saving tools, including reports that offer comparative consumption information and household-specific analysis of consumption patterns, access to an online portal with detailed usage information, and high bill alerts designed to help customers avoid excessive bills while they still have time to change their usage.
Customers will be involved in the new programme through mailed reports, web portal, email and SMS messages,as well as social media.
Opower and First Utility intend to work in consultation with the Behavioural Insights Team in the UK Government’s Cabinet Office and Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to assess the impact of this programme to inform future smart meter policy. Energy savings from the programme will be measured and verified independently by leading academics in the UK using data from smart meters.
Mark Daeche, Founder of First Utility, says: "We know that household budgets are under increasing pressure, and that energy bills are part of that. At First Utility, we are able to provide cutting-edge home energy management tools enabled by our recently deployed smart meters.”