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ASA knocks DECC Green Deal ads

Complaints made against the Department of Energy and Climate Change about the Green Deal have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

ASA knocks DECC Green Deal ads

A TV ad and an advertorial in the national press the DECC Green Deal initiative were found to be misleading because they implied that energy and money savings were guaranteed under the scheme, that it did not mention that a fee would probably be charged for a Green Deal Assessment, that having the work carried out would increase the property’s price and implied that assessors were impartial and not employed by the organisations making the improvements.

The TV ad featured presenter Oliver Heath knocking on a man’s door and looking around his house while a voiceover said: “We’d all like to keep our homes warm and save money on energy bills this winter, but how can you find out if your insulation is thick enough to keep the heat in, or whether a new boiler could save you hundreds of pounds a year?”

The advertorial included claims regarding the savings that could be made and property price increases following “green” home improvements.

Crystal Home Improvements made 10 complaints about the campaign, six of which were upheld.

The ASA said: “We considered the claims ‘the money that we are saving more than covers any repayments for having the work done’ and ‘lets you pay for some of the upfront costs of the work over time, and is repaid using the savings you can expect to make’ in the advertorial would be understood to mean that, over time, customers would save money under the Green Deal. We also considered the claim ‘We’d all like to keep our homes warm and save money on energy bills this winter, but how can you find out if your insulation is thick enough to keep the heat in, or whether a new boiler could save you hundreds of pounds a year?’ would be interpreted by consumers to mean that savings were guaranteed under the Green Deal initiative.

“Although we understood the first year’s installment payments could not exceed the first year’s savings and any interest payable on repayments would be at a fixed rate for the whole repayment period, DECC could not guarantee that Green Deal repayments would not exceed savings. Saving calculations were based on what DECC would expect a typical household to save as a result of building improvements and the assumption that energy bills would rise in line with inflation. Because we considered the claims implied that savings were guaranteed, we concluded the ad was misleading.”

The ASA ruled that the ads must not appear in their current form and told DECC to ensure they held sufficient evidence for claims made in marketing communications, including saving claims, their ads did not misleadingly imply savings were guaranteed and that ads did not misleadingly give the impression that Green Deal assessments were impartial or give the impression of being a Green Deal testimonial when they related to other schemes or work.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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