Moneywise verdict on British Gas's new energy tool
British Gas has launched an online tool promising to save householders "hundreds of pounds" on energy-efficiency improvements.
However, when Moneywise put it to the test, it failed to deliver any help at all.
The tool, which can be found at ecobritishgas.co.uk/eco, promises to help all householders - not just British Gas customers - find out what help they could get with making their home more energy efficient under the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). These are government schemes aiming to reduce carbon emissions, tackle fuel poverty and meet the upfront cost of energy-efficient home improvements.
The promotional blurb says that by answering a few simple questions via the online tool, you can find out if you're "eligible for loft and cavity wall insulation or a new efficient boiler".
Having moved into a new home in need of insulation improvements myself, I tried out the tool.
I entered my postcode online and was then asked whether I was claiming any benefits (no), what type of walls I have (cavity), whether my cavity walls have been insulated in the past (don't know), how many storeys my property has (less than three) and whether the property has had any improvements (yes, an extension and a new boiler flue).
Then came, "Great news, you may be eligible for FREE cavity wall insulation" and then I was invited to "call now for [my] free survey".
Optimistically, I called and was put through to a British Gas employee who said she could only help me with cavity wall and loft insulation queries – but not the Green Deal.
She asked me to repeat my answers to the online questions (rather frustrating) and it transpired that I wasn't entitled to any insulation after all – mainly because my Surrey postcode wasn't on the hitlist and neither am I on benefits.
In a promotional email about the online tool, Claire Williams, managing director of British Gas New Energy, said: "This new tool is a quick and free way to gain some really useful information about how to improve your home, cut energy use and help keep bills under control this winter and in the years to come."
However, I neither learnt about any energy-efficiency improvements my home might be eligible for, or anything about ECO or the Green Deal.
The British Gas employee on the phone told me the free insulation scheme energy providers were running up until last year had been used up in my postcode and that's why I wasn't entitled to help. So it seems that the new online tool is more of a way for British Gas to meet other energy-improvement commitments than specifically help customers with the Green Deal.
Moneywise verdict: disappointing