Ever since I researched and wrote the What’s in it for me? report looking at best practice in motivating consumers to install energy efficiency measures, I have been rather sceptical about the Green Deal as a mechanism for encouraging large numbers of people to reduce their energy use. And, having trained a number of energy efficiency practitioners in using behaviour change and social marketing techniques to improve the performance of their projects, I know I am not alone.
However, following the announcement of The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, I decided to put my scepticism to one side and give the whole thing a go. My motivations? Professional curiosity and a need to properly sort out my draughty windows. Here’s how my Green Deal Journey has started.
1. Finding an assessor on Green Deal Orb
Having entered my postcode into the website I got a message “unable to locate postcode data. Please search again with a different postcode”. Quite why I would want an assessor to come to a different postcode I don’t know, however doing an advance search on “London” provided me with 66 results.
66! That’s far too many – I only wanted three that I could get some quotes from. This amount of choice is bewildering. However on closer inspection many of these outfits weren’t in London at all – the phone numbers given ranged from Hastings, Stoke, Middlesbrough and Ardrossan (which I now know is in Ayrshire).
So, I ended up Googling “green deal assessment London” and cross-referencing my search results with the long list on Green Deal Orb. I ended up with three companies to contact.
I wonder how many vaguely interested people would have had the persistence to get this far? People are busy and have lots to do, so getting them to take action is all about making things easy for them – this process makes it really difficult and is likely to be squandering people’s initial good intentions.
2. Getting a quote for an assessment
I then visited the websites of the three companies I had identified and completed their on-line enquiry forms for an assessment. Two companies had quite straightforward forms, the third asked for the buildings size and age it was built, which I had to dig around a little to find.
I did this three weeks ago. Two companies replied straight away, with different quotes (£110 and £150), I have yet to hear from the third.
Now, partly because life gets in the way and partly because I was interested in seeing what happened, I did not reply to the two companies that emailed me. But I have not heard anything from them either.
Surely people who have made an initial enquiry about the Green Deal are to be communicated with better than this? At the very least I would have expected a reminder email, or an offer to discuss things further. But I have had nothing but silence and plenty of time to forget about energy efficiency entirely.
There seems to be a need for companies working on the Green Deal to improve their enquiry handling processes and not let potential customers vanish through their own lack of communication.
So, my journey is off to a poor start – it has taken persistence and effort to motivate myself to get this far, with neither Green Deal Orb or the Green Deal companies doing much to make taking action on energy efficiency easy or attractive.