I've been meaning to post this for a while but have only got round to it. I reckon it could a bit of a vote winner for one of the UK political parties in the run up to the election this year. Some context first…I'll try and keep it short.In France – where I own a property – the government is keen to encourage people to make their houses as energy efficient as possible. It does this by giving you money back when you install specific types of energy efficient or environmentally beneficial stuff. The list is long…from wood-burning stoves to double-glazing to heat-exchangers to solar panels. The cash you get back from the government can be up to 40% of the cost. It's a genuine incentive. To add to this incentive, my French bank, Société Générale, will offer a 10-year, interest-free loan to anyone that can demonstrate that they'll use the cash to do two or more energy efficient things to their property. So, get this. We've been talking to Société Générale about a loan to cover the cost of installing wood-burning stoves and double-glazing. Total cost is about 30,000 euros and it seems the loan's not a problem. So an interest-free loan of 30k spread over 10 years. Not bad. Even better, of course, when you consider that we'll be getting a cheque back from the French government for somewhere around 10,000 euros, which we can obviously use for anything we like (including paying off a chunk of the loan). It's bloody brilliant, and I'm already thinking about what else we might be able to do to make the place a bit more green. Which has got to be a good thing, no? From the bank's perspective it's a great way of deepening a customer relationship and enhancing reputation. It also means that people are adding value to properties many of which will probably also be mortgaged by Société Générale, which must reduce the bank's exposure to negative equity in the future. So, here's my UK vote winner. Why doesn't one of the UK political parties commit to making the Royal Bank of Scotland put aside £1 billion to be made available as 10-year interest-free loans to people making energy efficient improvements to their homes? That would be 50,000 loans of £20k, by my reckoning. This would be good for a number of reasons: 1. It would be a decent thing for RBS to do, given the public owns it
2. People would increase the value of their properties
3. The environmental/energy efficiency benefits would be significant
4. There'd be an economic boost to the building trade and it would create some jobs Or am I talking rubbish?