The Government's Green Deal launches today, providing loans for energy efficiency work. Here, Greg Barker (right), Minister of State for Energy & Climate Change, outlines why the coalition launched the plan (also see Green Deal News for the basics and sign up to our weekly email for a full analysis once we've assessed interest rates).

The Green Deal is revolutionary and will play a huge role in upgrading our inefficient buildings. Millions of homes do not have full double-glazing, more than half do not have enough insulation or an efficient condensing boiler.

Most do not even have proper heating controls. Homes and businesses across Britain are wasting energy and money, yet demand for energy efficiency measures remains low.

The Green Deal is designed to tackle some of the big worries people say put them off making their homes more energy efficient. Can they get reliable, impartial advice? Will the work be done well? Can they afford it?

That's why the first step towards a Green Deal is booking an assessment. A fully authorised Green Deal assessor will come to your home and give you impartial advice, recommending improvements appropriate for your property and telling you if they are expected to pay for themselves through reduced energy bills.

Green Deal providers will then give quotes for the recommended improvements. You can get as many quotes as you like, and it's up to you which recommendations you follow.

Only approved assessors, providers and installers can take part in the Green Deal, so check they have the quality mark to prove it.

Now for some people, just getting the right advice on what they should do is all they need.

But many people say they can't find the money to make energy efficiency improvements. So we've ensured an innovative approach to finance:

  • First, a special type of loan, where you can borrow and not be worse off. The "golden rule" ensures the expected savings on bills for a home like yours will be at least as big as the repayments, including interest.
  • Second, access to finance. Only about half the population can access the best unsecured finance deals on the high street. The offer from the Green Deal Finance Company is available to over 80% of the population, while for those on low incomes or in low income areas, there's extra help available worth around £540m each year. You can find out if you're eligible by calling the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or contacting a Green Deal assessor or provider.
  • Third, it's not attached to you, but to your meter. Unlike a normal loan that follows you wherever you go, with Green Deal, if you move out, the Green Deal stays behind with the meter, because the new resident gets the benefits.

Only you can decide if the finance part of Green Deal is right for you. The Green Deal assessment is an important part of this, because it will tell you whether you use more or less than the average for your kind of home, and so what savings you can expect to see.

Not every package can be fully funded using the Green Deal, because not everything fully pays for itself. But you can still use Green Deal finance to pay for part of the costs, and everyone is eligible for help with the costs of expensive improvements like solid wall insulation.

You should shop around for the best deal. The number of Green Deal providers is growing and they are likely to have different offers.

On top of their offers, and whether or not you take out Green Deal finance, hundreds of pounds of cashback is available from the Government. Funds are limited and it is a first-come, first-served offer. The more work households have done, the more cashback they could receive – over £1,000 for someone in England and Wales getting a new boiler and insulating their loft and solid walls.

The Green Deal is a fantastic opportunity to improve the look and feel of your home, while saving energy at the same time. I am hugely excited about what it can achieve.

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