Consumer Corner: How you can save hundreds of euro on bills each month by 'going green'

Financial experts share how consumers can bag some major monthly savings
Consumer Corner: How you can save hundreds of euro on bills each month by 'going green'

Energy efficiency mobile app on screen. Ecology, eco house concept

Consumers can bag hundreds of euros in monthly savings on mortgages and insurance products by going ‘green’.

Financial experts said that banks and financial services companies have a range of products where green-conscious consumers can save a lot of money each month.

Head of credit at MyMortgages.ie, Joey Sheahan said that anyone with a BER energy rating of A or B should not be paying an interest rate of over 2% for their mortgage.

Based on a €300,000 loan over 35 years, this works out at repayments of €993 monthly and consumers can save €67,000 over the term of the mortgage or nearly €160 per month compared to a 3% “non-green” rate.

“We've seen a large increase in mortgage switchers availing of this. We expect continued growth here, as anyone who built a house in the past 10 years or so, or who has renovated their home over the last 10 years, as well as anyone who has bought a new home in the past 10 years should qualify for this rate," he said.

Green mortgages are being offered by most lenders now and they are certainly worth considering according to the Chairperson of the Association of Irish Mortgage Advisors, Trevor Grant. He said that those who will mainly benefit are homeowners who buy a more energy-efficient home or those who are seeking to improve the energy efficiency and BER of their current home.

CEO of home and life insurance company, Peopl.ie Paul Walsh said home and motor insurance companies are also looking for more “green” products for Irish consumers.

He said they’re doing this for several reasons. Firstly it makes sense for them to differentiate their insurance cover in a busy market, it helps them attract customers that demonstrate positive environmental behaviours like investing in their home energy rating and those driving fuel-efficient cars.

“This growing trend and subsequent developments will, most likely, reduce costs and premiums for customers. We expect there will be a growing consumer demand for policies that reward positive environmental behaviours, and growing political pressure on insurers to demonstrate that their polices are recognising and rewarding such behaviour with lower premiums.

“As every home in Ireland will have a BER rating at some point in the future, it’s going to become increasingly important for insurers to acknowledge householders who do their part to support a sustainable environment.”

To help consumers get these green products there are some grants available and SEAI has a lot of information on its website with those details. Various Credit Unions also offer a scheme that helps with financing to retrofit a home.

CEO of the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA), Kevin Johnson said the scheme has proven popular as the Credit Union does the “leg-work”.

"Homeowners simply fill out an application form at the credit union, after which a national project management firm (REIL) conducts an assessment on their property and presents them with a report.”

A national project management firm (REIL) is appointed to oversee all surveys and works and grant funding of up to 35% is available from SEAI for all qualifying works and low-rate financing is made available for the balance of costs through the credit union.

The average amount spent on retrofitting is about €14,000 and is made up of a grant, savings and borrowings.

“The scheme covers retrofits to a range of energy systems, including attic insulation, external wall insulation, the installation of solar panels, and upgrades to windows, among others,” said Mr Johnson.

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