After upsetting customers by raising gas and electricity prices, British Gas aims to soften the blow by introducing the Home Energy Plan.
Earlier this month, the energy firm attracted plenty of criticism after announcing plans to increase domestic gas prices by 18 per cent and electricity by 16 per cent.
At a time of increasing fuel poverty, many customers were angered by the company’s decision, which is seen as a poorly veiled attempt to protect profit margins (rising wholesale fuel costs and the funding of renewable technology are considered poor excuses by some).
The Home Energy Plan is intended to assuage disgruntled customers by lowering energy bills. Available to only those customers who pay for gas and electricity from British Gas by direct debit, the Home Energy Plan serves to reduce bills through the implementation of energy-saving initiatives.
Under the plan, British Gas will send energy experts to customers’ homes to complete an audit of each property and to recommend various measures to reduce energy consumption.
The energy experts are likely to recommend measures such as loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, double glazing, thermostatic radiator valves, programmable thermostats, hot water tank jackets and so on. After the energy experts have finalised their recommendations, households are provided with an estimated figure of how much money could be saved if the measures are installed or implemented.
The Home Energy Plan would then allow qualifying customers to acquire a Barclays Finance loan (annual interest rate of 6.9 per cent repayable over five, ten or fifteen years). The loan would be provided to cover the cost of installing the energy-saving measures. Interestingly, solar panels are included in the scheme.
Managing Director of British Gas New Energy, Jon Kimber, said: “We know that household budgets are stretched at the moment, but rising energy prices don’t have to mean higher bills. Britain’s housing stock is some of the most inefficient in the developed world with £1 in every £4 spent on heating our homes wasted because of poor insulation.
“Under our offer, customers can improve their homes and save money by cutting bills – all at no upfront cost”.