The Green Deal would see private-sector operators lend money to businesses, landlords and housebuilders to help them make green improvements to their properties.
The scheme would be underpinned by the so-called "golden rule" which stipulates that energy savings delivered by the measures will be bigger than the loan repayments.
Along with household insulation and other energy efficiency measures, the deal will include the installation of micro combined heat and power, micro wind generation, photovoltaics, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps.
Launching a consultation into the plans today, energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne said the scheme would "stimulate billions of pounds of private sector investment".
"The Green Deal will revolutionise the way that we keep our homes warm, making them cosier, more efficient – and all at no upfront cost", he said.
But green building lobby group the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) gave the plans a cautious welcome. Chief executive Paul King said: "This document must be backed up by announcements from the chancellor next week, outlining how they will incentivise take-up amongst home owners and building occupiers.
"Also, given recent announcements from government which have dented investor confidence – such as the cuts to the Feed-in Tariff – the government must articulate a clear, long-term vision for the Green Deal so that industry has the confidence to invest and ensure it has the skills to deliver."
The consultation document can be read email@example.com