British households may not have responded to the Green Deal with as much enthusiasm as the government had expected, but Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Greg Barker has devised a cunning plan to stimulate interest in the scheme. And it involves door-to-door sales.
Barker seems to believe that cold calling will almost certainly encourage more households to order work under the Green Deal. Of course as everyone knows, most Britons would rather have a tooth pulled out than answer the door or the telephone to someone who wants to sell them a product that they probably cannot afford. Barker’s answer to that dilemma is to dispatch teams of energy experts to homes around the country.
The Green Deal has yet to inspire people whose houses are notoriously energy inefficient. According to a report in the Guardian, some 14 million homes in the UK require additional insulation, particularly in the form of cavity wall insulation or solid wall cladding. Many homes have already had their lofts insulated, but millions are still without this basic form of insulation.
By the middle of last month, Green Deal Assessors had carried out almost 40,000 assessments, yet just 240 homes were registered in the system as having secured finance under the scheme. Considering that only 0.6 per cent of assessments have resulted in “live” plans, Barker would be forgiven for clutching at straws as critics of the Green Deal call for more action. But there is nothing desperate about cold calling.
Barker explained: “I think this could be the biggest single way of getting [people to sign up to the Green Deal], going street by street”.
The Energy Minister’s innovative marketing strategy may not convince households that the Green Deal offers value for money. Interest rates of around 8 per cent, when calculated over the maximum period of 25 years, make the cost of paying for an energy efficient makeover under the scheme unaffordable for many households.
Although Barker really ought to be commended for his visionary thinking, doorstep sales tactics may not be what the Green Deal needs.