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Home Action Plan

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 21-Aug-08 06:21:36 PM

(This is the follow-up post to last week's write-up of the Communities and Local Government-hosted DEA Workshop which focused on proposed changes to CPD requirements)

Sorry for the delay in writing this but... ya know!

The purpose of the afternoon session, as described in the introduction to the CLG draft minutes, was "to discuss opportunities for DEAs to provide other paid for services".

It was described to me as a "fait accompli".

I should, before we move on to the main dish, point out that delegates were unanimous in their agreement that DEAs should not cross-sell other commercial services whilst undertaking Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) audits... much to the relief of the CLG!

Energy Saving Trust

Present at the meeting to serve-up the main dish were representatives of the Energy Saving Trust (EST) and Asset Skills.

Home Action Plan

EST stepped-up to reveal details of a new service being piloted (by National Energy Services) on 30 homes - free of charge - called Home Action Plan.

The Home Action Plan (HAP) is basically an extended energy assessment of a homeowner's property which goes beyond your good ole RdSAP-calculated EPC (which is provided).

The HAP takes into account:

  • water
  • waste
  • renewable technologies
  • transport
  • advice on how to reduce energy bills.

Joseph Pestell of Energenius Ltd - attending on behalf of the Institute of Home Inspection (IHI) - said: "This is a much more holistic approach to [measuring] carbon footprint, which actually seems to have a lot of merit."

Pilot run

As stated above, the HAP is currently being piloted to 30 homes free of charge in return for detailed feedback from participating homeowners.

From October until December, the pilot will enter stage two when it will roll-out to 170 homes. The difference, however, will be the way in which the service is marketed: it will be marketed to homeowners for £99.

Rumours are, that once the pilot schemes have ended, HAPs will be marketed at around the £99 - £125 mark.

No decision has yet been made on how much Domestic Energy Assessors will be paid for the survey, but the minutes do reveal that DEAs involved with the pilot are currently paid £75.

Delegates at the meeting suggested a preferred rate of between £100 - £125 or salary of £25 - 30k.

It is clear from the numbers that some subsidy will be necessary at those price-points, but how much will depend on what stage two of the pilot - when homeowners will be charged £99 - reveals.

If there are few takers the price may need to be reduced, thus increasing the subsidy, which will inevitably reduce the numbers of HAPs made available from the budget allocated.

The Home Action Plan survey

DEA fees, though, will likely remain fixed by the EST once set. This is probably because the HAP audit is touted - according to the CLG draft minutes - as taking 2 - 2½ hours to complete.

But just two weeks before the workshop, early feedback from a DEA participating in the pilot was critical of the time and process involved with the home visit. At a DEA forum dedicated to piloting the HAP, username "alanpeddar", wrote (on Thurs Jul 24, 2008):

I've now done 3 of these assessments and it is painfully obvious that the data collection and collation of notes etc is far too time-consuming to be practical if this is to be a viable exercise. We spend so long on site performing data collection with which the householder is not involved that the time we usefully spend with them is severely restricted, they don't want us to be there for 3 hours only spending perhaps 30mins giving them advice.

Collecting RdSAP data, drawing floor plans, measuring property size etc to generate an energy certificate which is at best short-lived and quite possibly useless if the homeowner adopts any of the recommendations is a waste of everyone's time.

My thoughts so far - the HAP pilot forum.

In response, Sarah Gaunt wrote: "I very much appreciate that the amount of data you are required to collect is currently making the audit very time consuming.  We are at this very moment looking at how we can cut down the number of audit questions to reduce the time of the audit."

Whether, in the two weeks leading up to the DEA Workshop since "alanpeddar" submitted his feedback, the amount of data collection has since been reduced to comfortably accommodate the 2 - 2½ hours mentioned in the meeting, is not known.

Training: Introducing the Advanced DEA

(Well, actually, the job title is given as "Home Advisor")

To become an Home Advisor you will need to undertake three days of training - hence, no doubt, the presence of Asset Skills at the meeting.

  1. Day 1: includes introduction to the Home Action Plan and provision of advice on energy bills
  2. Day 2: includes training on waste, water and transport
  3. Day 3: includes training on renewables (including software to help the assessment)

Proposals made at the meeting include: a high-level entry criteria which will need to include the ‘soft skills’ for giving advice; accredited training leading to a recognised qualification; CPD; a code of conduct; and a revocable 'licence' to operate (should the code of conduct be breached).

Two tiered market - "elitism"

Concerns were expressed about how those in fuel poverty would least be able to afford a Home Action Plan - the very people arguably most in need of one.

Also, calls of "elitism" were apparently made, presumably because only a limited number of DEAs will eventually receive HAP work - That, and the additional qualification needed; and the higher fees potentially on offer.

We may argue about the term "elitism", but it's not an unreasonable observation.

Ron Smith-Galer, a Domestic Energy Assessor and regional councillor for the IHI, who was also present at the workshop, said: "It will have Government subsidy and is to be welcomed.  My only criticism is that the subsidy may not go far enough. There is nothing specifically for the army of under-employed DEAs to help vulnerable groups - especially the over 70s - who could be utilised in the war on fuel poverty".

Raising the value of Energy Performance Certificates

But if there is one potential side-benefit flowing from this, it is that the rumoured cost of Home Action Plans may actually lift the perceived value of Energy Performance Certificates in general. 


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Posts: 3
Home Action Plan
Reply #1 on : Thu August 21, 2008, 20:30:05
This is not a 2 tier system, it is called career progression and should be welcomed as a move to recognise the potential of a percentage of current DEA. This is a real career move, as opposed to a career change into Home Inspection/ Property Condition Surveys. We already have a multi tier system with the advent of commercial.

Rob N

Posts: 3
Home Action Plan
Reply #2 on : Thu September 04, 2008, 15:17:51
Just to clarify, the pilot is being run on behalf of The Energy Saving Trust by a 3 way consortium consisting of The National Energy Foundation, National Energy Services and the United Sustainable Energy Agency.
Posts: 1
Re: Home Action Plan
Reply #3 on : Thu September 04, 2008, 15:50:37
Thanks for clarifying, Alison.

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