Energy Bills: Can Green Be Cheaper?

One of the biggest sources of carbon emissions in the UK is the energy we use to heat and power our homes. 

But with families feeling the pressure from inflated energy bills and the surging cost of living, does it make sense for households to opt for green alternatives? And is the government doing enough to help us get there? 

Tonight has spoken to several people who have experienced difficulties whilst trying to retrofit their homes with low carbon tech. 

Michelle decided to upgrade her oil boiler to a low carbon air source heat pump, after a leaflet came through her door claiming that her new system would not only be greener, but also cheaper to run. 

She paid £14,000 for the initial installation, which was carried out by a small firm.

Far from reducing her bills, she says the cost of heating her home increased to £800 per month, much more than the £150 she used to pay for oil. 

The situation got so bad that Michelle was forced to resort to using a woodburner to warm her home, as she didn’t dare turn up her radiators.  

She said “You’re expecting a Ferrari, but you've actually really only got a mini…you know that’s what it’s like. It's just been appalling really”. 

The high cost of her electricity bills turned out to be the result of a faulty installation. After months of struggling with the system and several repair attempts by the original installer, she was finally able to find a competent engineer who was able to fix the problem. 

Michelle believes that the problem is not the technology itself, but a lack of skilled installers with a detailed understanding of technology like heat pumps. That’s a view supported by several experts we spoke to.

Meanwhile, as consumers try to reduce their historically high energy bills, the number of Solar panel installations has reached its highest level in seven years.

But experts have warned that as the demand for solar increases, low quality installers might take advantage of consumers. 

Chris and Lorraine who live in Kent encountered difficulties with their installation, after opting for solar panels and electric heating. 

They say that a poor job of the installation, carried out by an E.ON subcontractor, resulted in a leaking roof and £2200 worth of damage to their property. The couple also say that the solar panel equipment was installed improperly. 

E.ON told us that two assessments pointed to a pre-existing problem with the roof, and that it was this that caused the leaks, not the solar panel installation. They said that Chris and Lorraine have been made aware of these findings. They say they have made repeated attempts to resolve an issue which delayed the couples battery installation"

The couple say their system is now working well, and for one month this spring, their electricity bill was just £14.  

Whilst some people have struggled with installing low carbon systems, many have had a smoother experience.

Natalie had solar panels installed to produce electricity to power her air source heat pump, and she says this has made for a winning combination. 

Even at an initial cost of £13,500 for the heatpump, and £22,300 for the solar panels - she still believes the installation is paying off. 

And having an electric car in the mix has meant extra savings. 

The government offers several schemes to help people upgrade their homes. The boiler upgrade scheme offers £5000 towards an air-source heat pump, the ‘Great British Insulaton Scheme’ provides funding for households in council tax bands A-D to add insulation and the ECO 4 scheme helps households on lower incomes fund green upgrades. 

But questions have been raised as to whether these schemes are sufficient to help the UK meet its net zero target, and the government has also been criticised for a lack of clear advice to help consumers make the transition. 

The government told us they are investing billions to improve energy efficiency across the UK. 

They said the great british insulation scheme will help 300,000 more homes improve their energy rating. 

They told us the boiler upgrade scheme has already issued £70m worth of vouchers and that more households will benefit now it has been extended to 2028. 


Eco Experts:

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme:

A guide to heatpumps: