British Gas has today launched a major new business division called British Gas New Energy designed to provide households and businesses with a wide range of low carbon products and services.
Alongside offering customers green energy tariffs and carbon offsets certified by the EU and the UN, the new business will also offer a wide range of services designed to improve the energy efficiency of customers' buildings.
In particular the company has pledged to only install A-rated high efficiency boilers, continue to develop its insulation installation programme, and also provide installation of both solar panels for heating water and photovoltaic cells.
British Gas said it had also inked an agreement with six local authorities that will see customers buying solar panels costing from £4,300 will qualify for a discount on their council tax of up to £500. The company said it hopes that other councils will also sign up to the new scheme.
An additional new service will see British Gas New Energy provide householders with Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), which under recent legislation will become mandatory for those selling homes from June. The company said it had trained 500 of its engineers to carry out EPC surveys and give houses an EPC certificate detailing their energy efficiency.
"Most UK homes are poorly insulated and the energy loss and emissions levels from them are much higher than they could be," said Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of British Gas parent company Centrica. "We can use our expertise in the green energy sector to help home owners significantly reduce their impact on the environment and take a lead in this rapidly growing new business area."
The company admitted that the it will "take some time" for the new business unit to turn a profit, but argued that "overall the future UK market for domestic energy efficiency products, including microgeneration and energy efficient boilers, EPCs, loft and cavity wall insulation, has the potential to be worth several billion pounds per annum as awareness of the need for energy efficiency increases".
To coincide with the launch of the new business, British Gas committed to reduce its own energy usage by 10 percent on December 2006 levels by the end of 2007 and announced plans to cap emissions from its company car fleet from next month.
The company also said it would continue investment in new green technologies such as fuel cell domestic boilers, which are estimaed to slash household carbon emissions by half.
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