The Government’s new Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is promising everyone in England and Wales access to up to £7,600 cashback for installing energy saving home improvements.

Is this free cash simply too good to be true and how many people will actually be eligible?

After looking closely at the scheme, the cashback offer is as genuine and as attractive as it claims for many households. Regardless of household income, everyone can tap into the £120 million pot of money until April 2016 if their property is eligible.

So what’s the Government’s logic behind such a huge investment in our homes and is it really as good as it sounds?

Nearly seven million homes will require improving to meet modern energy efficiency by 2020 and interim carbon reduction targets of 34%. This will be the first step in the even greater challenge of improving 27 million homes to meet the UK’s 80% CO? emissions reduction target by 2050.

In my view, if we are to hit these steep targets the Government needed to rapidly incentivise us and raise awareness of the Green Deal and its purpose.

So laid before us now is a pretty tempting spread of cashback offers to help us pay for the necessary measures. Ranging from £100 cashback towards a Green Deal Advice Report if certain measures are completed, through to £7,100 for a retrofit such as solid wall insulation, double glazing, condensing gas boiler and flue gas heat recovery unit.

With a target of one million homes every year to be retrofitted between now and 2020, it’s fair to say the vast majority of households will be eligible for the Home Improvement Fund Cashback in some form. How much you’ll get depends on the property type, age, current insulation levels and the number of occupants.

Following research into what energy saving measures people wanted, DECC have come up with a list of twelve eligible installations based on the most desired and those that will have the biggest impact on energy efficiency.

The twelve measures include:

1. Condensing gas boiler (on mains gas)
2. Double glazing (replacing single glazing)
3. Secondary glazing
4. Replacement doors
5. Cavity wall insulation
6. Floor insulation
7. Flat roof insulation
8. Room-in-roof insulation
9. Replacement warm air unit
10. Replacement storage heaters
11. Flue gas heat recovery units
12. Waste water heat recovery systems

Accessing the cashback is straight forward. For the first time, you can either use an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) or Green Deal Advice Report (GDAR) to receive your cashback. The installation measures you want just need to be recommended in either the EPC or GDAR and must be installed by a registered Green Deal installer.

Be warned, although you can use an EPC, the recommendations may not be suitable for your home. The information in an EPC is basic, it won’t take into account the number of people living at the property or their energy usage which has a massive influence on what measures are best for you.

It’s much more beneficial to get a Green Deal Advice Report (GDAR) which will include an Occupancy Assessment. The recommendations will be far more accurate and will help you maximise your cashback value.

Whilst the Home Improvement Fund claims to offer you up to 100% cashback, the reality is you’re probably going to have to stump up some of the costs. This is when Green Deal Finance comes into play.

Although you can use whatever funding or finance you want, the Home Improvement Fund is designed to work with Green Deal Finance. Those who have taken Green Deal Finance, on the whole, have found the interest rates reasonable, and the pay-as-you-save repayment concept favourable when it comes to no increase in net monthly costs.

All in all, the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is pretty much a win-win for anyone serious about undertaking energy-saving home improvement measures. The generous cashback offers are not to be missed and won’t be around forever.

Like all schemes of this nature, it pays to research exactly what you can get, how you’re going to get it and what you’ll save in the long run.

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