Make it easier to get money off insulation
Insulating the loft couldn't be easier, but finding out whether you're eligible for grants or subsidies could.
After years of writing articles espousing the environmental virtues of a well-insulated loft, I thought I ought to practice what edie preaches and take a look at putting my own house in order.
Being aware of government help in this area, though hazy on the specifics, I thought I'd check out whether I could get it done on the cheap, rather than heading straight for the DIY shop with Switch card in hand.
Not as easy a job as you might expect.
I'd consider myself pretty able at browsing the web, and can even pick up a phone if I have to.
But the amount of information out there clouds the issue.
There are literally dozens of different ways to get subsidies out there, from the Government funded Warm Front campaign, through to private companies that will come round your house to assess your eligibility and throw in a quote for the job while they're there, from subsidised materials at point of sale to local authority initiatives - in my case, giving me a £100 council tax rebate if I let British Gas do the job.
Not all of these were too clear up front as to how much I could save and whether these offers were available to all or required me to meet certain criteria, like being a pensioner or on benefits.
When push came to shove, I decided it was less hassle to do the job myself and get me down B&Q to buy a bunch of Space Blankets which seemed pretty cheap.
I see from their website that these were subsidised too, and that they're for DIY use only and they won't sell them to the trade, though there's no way you'd know that if you hadn't checked on the internet.
Rambling aside, it seems to me that since better insulation is THE cheapest and most effective way we're going to reduce the energy demand of existing homes, it needs to be made as simple as possible to access the incentives to encourage people to do it.
To my mind, there's two ways you can do that. First is to have a single website where you simply enter your address, household income and any benefits you're entitled to and it tells you your options.
Second is simpler still - just subsidise the lot at point of sale and phone up those who are entitled to have the job done free of charge to let them know.Sam Bond