Readers note that a decision not to invest can be a wise one, that the big helping the small could amount to fewer accidents and that some calculations about the Green Deal could be flawed

No deal

I am amazed by the news that “Axa launches €2.5bn property fund” (9 January, Just because the banking sector has retreated from property investment there is no need for someone else to plunge in (especially with my pension!).

There is a sound reason why the banks retreated from this sector and stayed out. Who wants to invest in shopping centres in the middle of an internet retail boom? One of the great lessons in these times of financial woe and looking back over the last two or so years has been that sometimes the deal you never did was the best deal you did and that being in cash is a positive investment decision, not a lack of courage!

Alistair McHarg, via

It doesn’t add up

I have grave concerns about a number of the conclusions presented in the article “Green Deal: Does it add up for homes?” (13 January, page 42). Many of the assumptions made are questionable and the key conclusions are potentially misleading.

For example, the results for a three-bed end of terrace house with solid walls suggest a payback of three years for internal solid wall insulation (SWI) using plasterboard dry-lining with 85mm of insulation. The assumed installed cost is £1,509 - much lower than the cost estimates in a study undertaken on behalf of Energy Saving Trust (EST). Its report gives a cost of £5,470 for installing SWI in a single three-bed semi.

Furthermore, the analysis ignores the extra over costs associated with SWI, which the EST estimates will be around £3,000, with the study concluding that “the total cost of SWI would be in the range £5,500-8,500, with a mid-point at around £7,000”. However, the extra over costs associated with SWI might well be much higher, a report commissioned by DECC estimates an additional “hidden cost” of between £10,420 and £19,320 per dwelling -meaning that the true cost could be as much as 15 times greater than estimated in the article!

The Cyril Sweett report assumes that the energy saving associated with SWI will be entirely electrical - this will not always be the case, making the estimate of a three year payback for SWI even less realistic.

The claim that flue gas heat recovery could be installed in 22 million homes and states that “should be implemented wherever boilers are upgraded” - is bizarre, since if a condensing boiler is fitted there is no benefit in adding flue gas heat recovery.

Professor David Strong, David Strong Consulting and chair of the Green Deal Installation and Qualifications Forum

Safer working

Regarding your story, ‘Construction still worst for deaths at work, HSE confirms’ (4 January, what is needed is for the larger and more well organised firms to offer a free appraisal service for small companies when setting up their sites to minimise the risks that can lead to such fatal accidents. This would
not take much resourcing to provide and if one life is saved it would make the effort worthwhile.

Martin Hickey, via