I was not at all surprised to read a recent report from Citizens’ Advice which said that homeowners who want to fit energy saving measures, do not wish to take out unsecured loans to fund them.
My experience is that able-to-pay homeowners see energy saving measures as a home improvement project, to be funded as they would normally fund a home improvement, e.g. through savings, or existing credit lines. They aren’t looking for separate “retrofit loans”.
Low-income homeowners may not have access to easy finance. Credit unions are very important providers of loans to low income householders. But no credit union is going to loan the type of money that people need for whole-house energy saving measures with long repayment periods. It’s too risky. (I am vice-Chair of Citysave credit union and this is my personal view!).
The idea of ‘retrofit’ as a separate process from home improvement, is a concept that mainly exists in the heads of people in the energy world. The word ‘retrofit’ has little currency outside of this bubble. No householder has ever asked me for advice on ‘retrofit’. But I regularly get asked for advice on energy saving measures as part of a home improvement.
My message to people who think that ‘retrofit loans’ are the way forward is this – there are thousands of homeowners in Birmingham and elsewhere who are thinking of energy saving measures as part of a home improvement. They aren’t looking for a transaction. Their next step is looking for impartial advice on how they can make energy saving measures improve their most important asset.
Those of us who remember the first ‘Green Deal’ (at the time of the Cameron/Clegg government) will remember that there was no appetite for loan finance for energy saving measures. I was one of a number of people who put our heart and soul into trying to make Birmingham Energy Savers work. The appetite for energy saving measures has increased exponentially since then – but there is no evidence that anyone wants to borrow money to pay for them.
(Citizens’ Advice report – click here)