The UK government's ‘Green Deal', which came into force in October, 2012, tries to persuade homeowners to cut the carbon footprint of their home in return for cash incentives.
This had led to one obvious query: What happens if the property is sold? Normally, the buyer would be expected to settle any loans pertaining to the property before it changes hands. The catch here is that such Green Deal loans do not count as charges, and are therefore not registered at the Land Registry.
It is the obligation of the seller to inform a potential buyer of any outstanding Green Deal loans, but what happens if the purchase goes through without the buyer being informed?
About the Green Deal
In 2011 the government announced it was allotting £200million to its Green Deal scheme. Its aim is to deliver over £1.3billion in energy savings by 2020.
Many homeowners are savvy enough to understand that improving the energy-efficiency of their homes by, say, insulating their loft or installing solar panels, creates long-term benefits and makes their home more attractive to potential purchasers.
However confusion often arises when the property is sold and the title is transferred to a new owner.
Commenting on the solicitor's approach to Green Deal loans, Fridaysmove Panel Director Tony Lilleystone said “It is the task of a conveyancing solicitor to identify Green Deal loans during preparations for a potential house purchase, but the seller is required to inform the buyer anyway.”
“The property's EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), which is made available to anyone expressing an interest in buying the property, will contain a reference to the Green Deal loan on its first page.”
In spite of this, professionals within the property-purchasing industry have expressed concerns over the ambiguous nature of a Green Deal loan. If the loan qualifies as a charge, then the seller is obliged to settle the loan before the property is sold.
If it is not, then does the buyer inherit the need to repay the loan? The buyer will, after all, be benefiting from the home improvements made by the previous owner.
Whose Loan is it Anyway?
The Government's position seems to be that responsibility for paying the loan lies with whoever is paying the bills at the property in question.
This has led to further confusion – just because you own a property does not means you live in it. If you rent it out, does payment of the Green Deal loan now fall to your tenants? This confusion about the ownership of the loan – seller, buyer or occupants – may add weeks onto the time it takes for a sale to be completed.
The fact that an EPC is generally valid for ten years means there is no guarantee an EPC has been updated to reflect that the property has a Green Deal loan attached to it.
If the information about a Green Deal loan only comes to light several weeks down the line, and the seller is not happy about having to take over the loan, then both parties will have wasted a great deal of time and money for nothing.
In summary, it seems that advice on how conveyancing solicitors advise their clients about a property where a Green Deal loan remains outstanding is sorely required.
Tony Lilleystone is Panel Director at Fridaysmove, 1-6 Speedy Place, London, WC1H 8BU, and has over 30 years experience in the Property Sector.
Glastonbury might conjure up images of muddy wellies, rainy crowds – and even the occasional bit of music. But this year’s event played a slightly different chord when it came to one particular part of the festival experience: the showers.
While every attendee takes a different attitude towards how much showering should take place at a festival, showers at these events still typically consume a huge amount of energy. After all, they need to heat up enough water for tens of thousands of people every single day.
That’s why it was exciting to hear that green energy expert Andy Boroughs was put in charge of coming up with a more environmentally-friendly approach to getting the job done – and he delivered in spades with his ultra low-carbon wood pellet boiler.
Everybody was thrilled with the results, with environmental charity Greenpeace notably delighted that it fitted in with its ‘Save the Arctic’ campaign, which was the designated theme of this year’s festival.
It is hoped that these showers will inspire other festivals to look at energy-saving and low-carbon solutions to similar problems, especially as festival-goers are increasingly conscious about preventing damage to the environment.
But you don’t need to attend Glastonbury to start learning about energy-saving tips. In fact, there are plenty of ways you can transform your own home and make it more eco-friendly.
Here are some top easy tips for starters:
It might sound like a throwback to The Good Life, but composting is genuinely an excellent way to save energy and produce rich soil that can be used for a wide range of gardening projects. It’s also a great way to teach children about energy conservation.
Let there be light
If you have curtains in your home, open them! Always avoid the temptation to use electric lights when you have the option of flooding your rooms with natural sunshine. If natural light is lacking within these rooms, check whether anything is blocking the window or if your drapes are preventing light from getting in.
Turn off your appliances at night
Although it might sound like common sense, a surprising number of people are simply putting their computers on ‘sleep’ mode rather than actually switching them off, which still consumes a lot of energy! The same goes for televisions and DVD players. When in doubt, it’s useful to simply switch off electricity at the power point itself, ensuring that you’re not wasting any energy during the night.
Pay your bills electronically
Not only does paying bills electronically save paper, it also saves an awful lot of time – and it helps you stay more organised, too! Nearly all water and electricity providers give you an option to pay online, and once this becomes a regular routine, you’ll find it’s a preferable way to track your energy usage over time.
Dry your washing on a line
Although this naturally isn’t advisable during wet weather, opting to use a line instead of a drying machine saves your home a great deal of energy every time you do it.
Featured image license: Creative Commons image source
The trend for energy saving is two-fold. Times are tough and we are increasingly looking for more ways to be that little bit thriftier, but more importantly we need to be doing our bit for the world we live in. With this in mind here are some quick tips for those who want to do their bit from the comfort of their armchairs.
Energy saving light bulbs are fantastic; aesthetically pleasing, long lasting and you get a nice bright glow as opposed to a blinding fluorescent glare. Furthermore they won’t cost the earth (pun intended) and fitting about 10 of these around the house could save you, dear homeowner, about £30 every year. But if we ALL do it…well, just think of the improvement to our national energy consumption.
Don’t Be Bored, Be…Board?
Crack out the board games. Seriously, you may laugh, especially in this age of computer games and a million or so channels, but board games are fun and interactive. We spend far too much time basking in the glow of the TV. Bring out the board games once or twice a week, reconnect with the family and give the poor beleaguered television a break.
Now We’re Cooking!
Always remember, large pans on large hobs…small pans on small hobs. Also remember to leave that oven door open after cooking…don’t let that valuable heat go to waste!
When it Rains, it Pours!
Have a shower as you normally would, but pop the plug in and be prepared for a surprise. The average shower uses just as much water, if not more, than the average bath – so don’t stay in for too long. Keep the temperature and pressure reasonably low as well.
You would be amazed at how much heating you can retain through insulation. There are many different options – cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation – but even just getting that loft insulated will do wonders. Believe me, you will notice the difference and furthermore it won’t cost much (sometimes it is even free – if you qualify for a government grant) and it could save you around £170 a year!
Hang your clothes out to dry. Even if it is cold outside the wind can dry your clothes. Furthermore using a radiator to dry your clothes will put pressure on your heating system while the tumble dryer can damage your garments – leaving them with the tensile strength of stale tissue paper!
Washing powder and laundry detergent is better than ever at cleaning clothes. So effective in fact, that you only need to wash them at 30°C these days!
Think Cold Tap!
Every time you turn that hot tap on, even if just for a few seconds to wash your hands, it causes your combi boiler to ‘fire up’…more unnecessary energy usage!
You might not believe this, but that little red standby light could be costing you about £20-£30 every year…and why? What exactly is it doing to earn that money? Turn it off. Keep your eye on plugs as well and get into the habit of turning things off at the mains.
Wrap Up, Warm Up
You live in Britain, not the Bahamas. You should not be lounging around the house in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt with the heating cranked up. You know what this country is like; even in the summer the evenings can be chilly. Saying that, I think the public’s obsession with the onesie may have cured this particular problem.
The Great Outdoors
Summer approaches (apparently) so have a few BBQ’s and give the oven a rest. Hang your clothes out to dry and get the ‘Lenor’ look! Also consider ditching the electric lights and switching to solar lighting, and finally if you have a hot tub (lucky you) then always make sure it is covered to keep the water warm.
The majority of these energy saving tips may seem small and innocuous, but if combined they could really make a difference. Give them a try; this planet, and your wallet, need a break.
Vicky works alongside http://thehottubcompany.co.uk/ who supply enviromentally friendly spas. One of her favourite simple ‘green' activities is to make sure her old clothes and other items and recycled and upcycled through local charity shops and donation banks!
Image courtesy of Flickr.
As you're moving into your new home, you move in furniture, decorations and personality that don't just make it a house, but your home. Just as you leave your stamp on the visual aspects of your home, you also leave a stamp on your energy consumption.
What can you do to reduce your energy use and make your home more efficient? Simple solutions such as blocking the sunlight with curtains or blinds in the summertime to keep AC bills lower or allowing more sunlight into your house during the winter can go a long way. Reducing hot water use by taking shorter showers, using energy efficient appliances, washing your laundry in cold water and implementing fans in the summer can also help your energy bill.
What else can you do?
Visual Guide to Home Energy Savings – courtesy of PurelyShutters.co.uk