It is now just days until the full launch of the Green Deal, and much has been made of how much assessments will cost residents.
Initially, the Government scheme was designed to offer residents a chance to improve their home’s energy efficiency for no upfront cost, yet most merchants will actually charge from £150, with British Gas undercutting at £99, for a two hour assessment.
But there is one energy efficiency company is offering Green Deal assessments for free. Bill Rumble, chief commercial officer of Mark Group, explains: “We have been in the business of providing energy efficiency solutions for forty years now. We have always had to survey properties before we carry out work, so for us it is quite normal to assess a house before working on it.
“We don’t want to waste people’s time because we may be in their house for a long time, maybe an hour or more to carry out an assessment. We want to make sure consumers fully understand the Green Deal before they make a decision.”
However, Rumble admits the freebie would only last for as long as it was sustainable. “The company will only benefit from the free assessments if take up to the Green Deal is good. Currently we are quietly confident about how it will roll out. We have made a big investment in the Green Deal and we have more Green Deal assessors than anyone else in the UK - about 200.”
He adds: “The Green Deal is difficult to call, it will be successful if consumers accept and embrace it, but it is a market lead opportunity which is very hard to predict as it is quite new and involves certain product groups that people are not familiar with. The best way to describe it is to say we are cautiously optimistic.”
Their announcement comes as smaller businesses and lone workers expressed concern they would be unable to compete with larger businesses who could offer these cut-price deals.
When Mike Crompton, Chairman at Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors, spoke to www.greendeal.co.uk last year, he said these promotions will prove a knock to independent assessors. He said in October last year: “British Gas have come out and said they could offer a Green Deal assessment for £99, which must be at a loss, because it can’t be done for that low a price. It seems to undercut independent installers.
“Realistically the cost of travelling to and from a house, assessing it and processing the paper work should be about £150 to £250, though obviously the price could be dropped down for a multi-property building or an estate. It can’t be done for £99.”
However Rumble said while he thought initially small businesses would find the Green Deal challenging, the Government’s help should see success at both ends.
A spokesperson for www.greendeal.co.uk said: “Obviously it is wonderful that Mark Group are offering their assessments for free to begin with, anything that encourages residents to make energy efficient changes to their home is welcomed.
“Hopefully as soon as people start coming on board, word of mouth with spread, and independent assessors, advisors and installers will be able to capitalise from the Green Deal.”
Rumble said: “Our business sees the Green Deal as an opportunity we will completely give it our best shot.”
Lima Curtis is a journalist who writes about matters of the environment for various websites and publications, including www.greendeal.co.uk