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How being kind to the planet can save you money

November 01, 2021

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“…if choosing greener options means you can also avail of a cheaper rate, it’s a win for your pocket and the planet.”

Financial institutions are as keen as any other business to highlight their green credentials, and a key way to do this is in the products they offer.

With that in mind, now seems a good time to highlight that, in a growing number of situations, doing the right thing for the environment can also work out as the best option for your budget.

Financial institutions are as keen as any other business to highlight their green credentials, and a key way to do this is in the products they offer.

So when you are making major financial decisions now and in the future, from what car or house to buy to how to renovate your home, it is worth taking a look at the products on offer. The ‘greenest’ option could come with additional financial benefits.

When it comes to personal loans, for example, both AIB and BOI offer discounted rates in certain scenarios.

AIB’s Green Personal Loan loan is offered with a rate of 6.4% APR, considerably lower than its current standard personal loan rate of 8.95% APR. In order to qualify for the lower rate, customers need to show they are spending 50% or more of the money on a green initiative. Battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles qualify, as do a whole range of home improvements — including, but not limited to, wall, attic and floor insulation, window and door upgrades or replacements, and renewable energy systems including heat pumps and solar panels. The rate is available for loans from €3,000 up to €60,000, and customers will be asked to include evidence of its green purpose, by providing a quote or invoice within the application.

Similarly, BOI’s Green Home Improvement Loan is available to borrowers undertaking work on their home to improve its energy efficiency, and its variable rate of 6.5% APR is lower than both its standard home improvement loan and personal loan rates. Loans from €2,000-€65,000 are available for a range of home improvement works, and again, proof of work being undertaken will be required.

If you are undertaking home improvement works, it is also worth checking out An Post’s Green Hub. An Post is offering a one-stop-shop project management service for major home upgrades, in partnership with SSE Airtricity. If you want to do it yourself or undertake smaller renovation projects, An Post also offers straightforward loans. Depending on the amount borrowed, the APR could be as low as 4.9%, which is Ireland’s lowest loan rate for home energy upgrades. Consumers can borrow between €5,000 and €75,000 for up to 10 years, but for amounts toward the lower end of the scale, the APR is much higher, and you are likely to get better value elsewhere.

Green lending also extends to home loans. Last month BOI increased its green rate discount on all fixed rates, and introduced three new high-value green rates, where mortgage borrowing is €300,000 or more. AIB, Haven, and Ulster Bank also have green mortgages — with discounted rates available to buyers purchasing energy-efficient homes.

To qualify, borrowers must be purchasing a home with a set minimum Building Energy Efficiency Rating (BER), generally B3 or better.

As Martina Hennessy of pointed out, the BOI and other green mortgage products could be of particular interest to first-time buyers.

“The first-time buyer market is the most active one presently, with a 49% year-on-year increase in drawdowns to end June 2021,” Ms Hennessy said. “Most new builds will be eligible for these green rates, and new builds are most popular with first-time buyers.”

But green mortgages are also available to those trading up or down, and are also worth considering for any borrowers who are thinking of switching their mortgage. If you have made improvements to make your home more energy-efficient, you may now be able to access a green mortgage from your own or another lender.

Important proviso — even with the discounted rates lenders apply to green mortgages, there still may be a better rate available to you on the market. Having a green mortgage doesn’t help the environment in any way in and of itself, they are just rates available for those in energy-efficient homes. Always make sure you look at all products available on the market, not just those from your existing bank or financial institution, when borrowing.

But if choosing greener options means you can also avail of a cheaper rate, it’s a win for your pocket and the planet.

Deal of the week

I have written in recent weeks about buying now to reduce outgoings over Christmas and one item going on sale in Aldi this weekend offers a way to sort out festive entertainment early.

On Sunday, the retailer will have a Now TV Smart Stick on sale for the bargain price of €14.99.

The smart stick is a small, portable device that plugs straight into the HDMI port of your TV, and lets you watch streaming services on the big screen.

This stick comes with one month of access for the Now entertainment package and its cinema package. The access starts when you choose to activate so a great one to keep for the long days between Christmas and New Year. You can choose whether to renew or add other packages like sport.

The smart stick also offers access to other services like Disney and Netflix, subject to separate subscriptions. Simply plug into a HDMI port and connect to the WIFI.

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