Curious to discover how she would end up getting duped, Hilary Osborne gave her details to a man offering free loft insulation
When someone approached me in the supermarket and offered me free insulation I was somewhat sceptical. He was wielding a clipboard rather than a roll of rockwool and wanted my name and phone number, so I was slightly cagey: “I’m not switching energy suppliers,” I told him. “You don’t have to,” he replied. Yeah right, I thought, but I was curious to discover just what kind of scam this was, so I handed over minimal details and sat back to wait.
A week later I got a call from British Gas reiterating the line that I could get free insulation. “I’m not with British Gas and I’m not switching,” I said. “That’s OK,” British Gas said. “You qualify by being a Sainsbury’s customer.”
Not letting on that I also go to Morrisons, I let him arrange for a man to come round and see if we really did qualify. This process continued – me keenly watching for the catch I could turn into a story, British Gas repeating that I really didn’t need to switch supplier – until less than a month after the initial encounter I found myself with a freshly, and freely, insulated loft.
Unusually, this is a good news story. British Gas has a grant it needs to use up and is making loft and cavity wall insulation available free of charge to customers of any energy firm. (Click here for more information or call 0800 980 8177).
There are, of course, some terms and conditions: the insulation is only available if you have less than 60mm of loft insulation already in place (but that is quite possible if it was insulated a while ago), and the insulation has to cover at least a third of your loft or wall space. There is also an upper limit of 120 metres squared, which is roughly the size of a four-bed detached home. You will also have to get your loft cleared in order for them to come in and do the job (although it is offering help to elderly customers who cannot do that themselves), and applications need to be made by 30 November and the work carried out by the end of the year.
The new insulation is very thick – we had to put in loft stilts beforehand so we could board the loft afterwards – and the installers will only do the insulation, not any additional work. Also, when we called we were told they could fit us in in October, or the next working day, but a British Gas spokesman says the usual turnaround time is nearer two weeks.
The only catch so far is that the work was finished just before it got warm, so we spent last week sweltering in our toasty home. That seems likely to be a passing problem though.
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