Residents of The Pavillion Gardens in Bradford were promised the homes of the future. They were told that thanks to ground-breaking building technology their environmentally-friendly homes would use a fraction of the energy of a traditional home, and save them a small fortune on their bills.
However, 18 months later, it emerged that many were facing energy bills that were twice the size of typical bills - and that one resident says he was charged £1,600 for six months.
Higher billsAccording to a report in the Daily Mail, the properties were built at a cost of £5.6 million by Bradford Council. They have an eco-heat exhaust pump that recycles warm air, solar panels, and rainwater-harvesting systems. They are also super-insulated, and some of the homes are heated by a communal biomass boiler.
However, the council has accepted that there is a 'serious problem' with energy use in the estate. It has blamed the builder and has promised to reimburse the highest bills and work with the contractor and residents to solve the problem.
The disaster for residents should hopefully be resolved, and no-one should be left out of pocket. Of course, there's a good chance that they will remain deeply impressed with homes that promised so much and delivered 18 moths of bill horror.
We all pay moreHowever, you don't have to live in a faulty eco house to pay a small fortune for environmentally friendly energy. We are already paying a levy for the development of alternative energy solutions on our bills, and The Energy Bill announced in May last year reinforced that this burden is likely to grow heavier in the coming months and years.
Jeremy Cryer, head of energy at Gocompare.com, explains: "The government is banking on alternative energy sources, such as solar, becoming more attractive in years to come as the cost of technology and installation comes down. But in the meantime there are warnings of higher fuel bills to fund the investment in clean energy required for future generations. "
"Consumers are now caught between a rock and hard place - expected to pay more if they are to invest in solar energy or pay more for utilities companies to provide their electricity. It's a case of 'mind the gap' for many customers suffering from rising energy costs and few incentives to invest in solar or other green energy solutions."
Of course we can cut our energy bills by taking our own steps to make our homes more eco-friendly, and use less energy. However, we will need to become expert energy savers, and shop around regularly for the best deal if we are to avoid serious price rises in the months to come.
But what do you think? Are you happy to pay more for green energy development, or do you think it's unfair to ask customers to foot the bill? Let us know in the comments.