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"Green" Helpline to Cut Consumers' Carbon Footprint

UK: June 20, 2007
Story by Jennifer Hill

LONDON - A new service designed to help consumers reduce their carbon footprint aims to boost the number of "green" homes in Britain by half a million within a year.

Greenhelpline.com, which went live on Tuesday, allows people to search environmentally friendly energy tariffs and source local food producers.
The site -- developed by environmentalist Alex Lambie and energy price comparison service energyhelpline.com -- hopes to convert 500,000 homes to electricity from renewable resources within the next 12 months.

Currently, just 150,000 households are on green energy tariffs, of which there are around 17 at present.

Switching to green electricity can cut the average household's annual carbon footprint from energy consumption to four tonnes from six, and save them up to 145 pounds per year, the Web site says.

However, green energy is often more expensive than electricity from non-renewable resources and Lambie concedes that such cost savings will generally only be available to those who have never switched provider.

There are some 25 million householders in the UK -- half of whom have never switched energy supplier.

People already on competitive tariffs will pay an average 10 percent more for "green" energy, while those on the cheapest deals -- such as British Gas' online "Click" tariff -- could pay up to 14 percent more.

"For a slight (cost) increase -- as a worst case scenario -- you can go green and have an immediate positive effect on the environment," Lambie told Reuters.

Users are able to rank green electricity deals by the potential CO2 reduction, price, service rating or fuel mix.

They can also search for local food producers -- such as farm shops, markets, delis, box schemes, "pick your own" sites and bakeries -- within a 50 mile radius of their home.

Once the site is fully developed, consumers will be able to buy local produce through the site, with a proportion of revenues being invested in schemes to help local farmers.

"There's so much confused messaging about what 'going green' is: there's an overload of information, and it's often contradictory," said Lambie.

"These days, there's also so much noise about the 'nanny state' and the way the country is run.

"But here are two really simple things you can do -- ones that will have real measurable effect."

A number of big companies are also being offered the tool to help their customers and staff become more environmentally friendly.

Greenhelpline.com -- which will make a flat rate of commission of 40 pounds per energy switch, from which around two pounds will be profit -- will split revenues 50/50 with the companies who sign up.

This money will then go into a scheme run by greenhelpline.com to give cash-back, vouchers and discounts to those who switch to a greener way of life.

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