The Lesson from the Green Deal…
Yesterday, the UK Government released initial figures on the uptake of its flagship Green Deal programme. This was developed to help homeowners retrofit energy efficiency measures in their home, financed from their electricity bills, but under the ‘Golden Rule’ that repayments would never exceed savings from the scheme. Sounds good? Well, uptake has been slow.
According to the Guardian, over 40,000 assessments have been undertaken, but only 3 people have taken out a loan with another 200 in the process of doing so. 5000 having financed the measures themselves and got cashback from the Government. This suggests that the people the Green Deal is aimed at – those who can’t afford that capital investment themselves – are not taking advantage of the finance – not yet, anyway.
Why not? They’d always get some cash in their pocket, get warmer homes, contribute to a greener future – why not?
Well, it’s all a bit complicated, isn’t it? I mean think of a harassed working parent, dashing from school gate to the office or factory and back again, feeding the family, getting them to bed and then slumping on the sofa. They’ve got a choice between watching the latest shenanigans on The Apprentice or getting their head around the Green Deal’s Golden Rule. Which wins?
When I sat on the board of a WarmZone project, we struggled to give away insulation for free to low income households. Why wouldn’t people take their arm off? Some people didn’t believe it really was free, others saw clearing out their loft as too much hassle – despite the big economic, health and comfort benefits the insulation would bring. Add a relatively complex financing deal to that and it doesn’t surprise me that people demur.
Again and again we keep getting the same lesson – that if you offer a green option it must not only be better than the alternative, or the ‘do nothing’ default option, but be simpler and more intuitive as well.
A walk in the park, not a slog through the mud, in other words.