Eco home buyers shocked as energy bills skyrocket to over £380 a month after ‘mix up of energy and solar meters’

An overhead shot of the village of Tomintoul
Tomintoul residents claim they were mis sold affordable homes claiming they cannot afford the energy bills in the newly built homes (Image credit: Getty Images)

Homeowners in Tomintoul have been left angered after being sold eco homes that have caused them to pay energy bills more than six times what was proposed to them.

The 12 homes that were built in the village in Cairngorms National Park were sold on the basis that they would reduce energy bills to around £62 a month, according to the buyers.

However, the eco homes have left them with energy bills that they claim they can't afford their energy bills anymore.

Developers have now claimed the high energy bills have been caused by solar and electric meters charging the wrong addresses.

What is the building project?

The project was led by Tomintoul & Glenlivet Development Trust with support from the Communities Housing Trust (CHT) and significant funding from the Scottish Government and built by Aberdeen-based Alpha Projects.

The homes are a mix of affordable rent and discounted sale with eight 2 to 3 bedroom homes available for affordable rent and four 3-bedroom homes for discounted sale.

Tomintoul & Glenlivet Development Trust claim the development aimed "to tackle fuel poverty and social isolation" with each house including renewable energy devices such as solar PV panels and air source heat pumps as well as thermal energy stores and individual electric vehicle charging points.

'We want what we paid for – nothing more, nothing less'

Residents recorded a number of complaints with the homes claiming they were mis sold the homes on the basis they would see lower energy bills.

One such resident was Tommy Carnegie who purchased a house advertised as an affordable eco home, however, he encountered serious issues with heating, hot water, and solar panels, resulting in substantial electricity costs.

He claimed: "There are some serious problems, mainly the heating, hot water and solar panels not working how they should resulting in huge electricity usage – around £14 a day.

"This is definitely not affordable eco-friendly homes that we were told we were buying. The electricity meters are also all mixed up which makes things even worse.

"The developers are making out like everything is fine and it’s just snagging problems, however, this is a lot more than snagging. How can they class £14 plus a day for heating as affordable eco-friendly homes?"

A solar meter and a hand writing on a notepad

Tomintoul homeowner's claim their energy bills have risen to over £14 a day, which many claim they will not be able to afford (Image credit: Getty Images)

Dru McPherson's son bought one of the homes and claimed the home is "not electrically safe and with huge heating costs... this is profit before people".

"My son should be paying £62 per month because of the solar panels, heat pumps and insulation, etc but bills at the moment based on usage are in excess of £380 per month", he added.

Connor and his partner Jodie Esson bought one of the homes in their first attempt to get on the property ladder claiming they "were sold on the idea of 'safe, affordable, Silver Active Standard eco homes".

Although, they say the experience has caused "huge mental stress" in the 8 months since the purchase as theirs and their neighbours energy bills (between £14-£18 a day) are not affordable.

They stated: "We can't tell yet what our electricity usage will be because, like others, our electricity meter is not registered to our property but to our neighbours.

"We simply want what we paid for – nothing more, nothing less."

CHT apologise for 'any distress' felt by residents

The CHT said they "are extremely sorry for any distress and inconvenience felt by residents" claiming the unusual energy price rises were caused by solar meters charging the wrong addresses.

Chief executive of the CHT, Ronnie MacRae, said: "We would like to assure all that we recognise defects in the works and are working hard to ensure these are rectified and the properties are effective in providing good quality affordable homes for the area.

"Unfortunately when the electric meters were supplied by the only energy company available at the time, there were errors in recording the meters against the wrong addresses and this has taken time to rectify, however, all electric and solar meters now correspond to the correct addresses and we are working with energy advice specialists to look at providing support to residents in reconciling their bills, some of which may not be correct.

CHT claims it has engaged with relevant industry bodies to address and resolve complaints raised by residents and wants to "provide confidence in the process to residents, especially around safety of electrical installation" which MacRae states "have been confirmed as safe".

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.