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A guide for energy assessors

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 14-Feb-09 04:21:53 PM

Heat and Energy Saving Strategy consultation 12th Feb 09 - 8th May 09And so with barely a hint of self-aggrandisement, I declare: I was right! As predicted Wednesday (DECC & CLG: Big energy announcement tomorrow), the Government did indeed launch its Heat and Energy Saving Strategy consultation document on Thursday - and it does concern you!

(And contrary to the expected acronym, 'HESS', it appears the officially accepted version should be condensed to what some will consider to be verging on sadistic wound-rubbing: HES!)

The HES mission

In brief, to achieve:

  • by 2015 - all home lofts lagged and cavity walls filled;
  • by 2020 - seven million homes to receive "substantial improvements";
  • by 2030 - all homes to benefit from "all cost-effective measures possible", plus renewable heat and electricity measures as appropriate.

The consultation document is a whopping 144 pages with a short timeframe in which to respond - by 8th May 2009.

So before I attempt to highlight the portions affecting the Energy Performance Certificate industry specifically, here is a brief overview of the broad policy proposals.

Home energy advice to homeowners

Comprehensive information and advice to help people save energy and money, 'including widespread availability of home energy advice by accredited advisers.' (Emphasis mine.) No timeline given.


Creative financing to provide energy saving and renewable energy improvements to homes using mechanisms that 'allow costs to be more than offset by energy bill savings'. The preferred means, it seems, is to tie any loans to the property (rather than the homeowner) and repaid on top of energy bills (which are hoped to be lower after the savings made from installed measures) over a period of up to 25 years.

More debt, grrreat!

No mention, so far as I can see, of financing the provision of home energy advice - an omission seemingly picked up by Austin Baggett, deputy managing director of NHER, who has called for funding "to subsidise the cost of providing the energy advice."

Delivering improvements to homes and communities

It wants to look at ways to implement 'a more coordinated approach to rolling out improvements to homes and communities, house-by-house and street-by-street.'

Widening Building Regulations

A widening of 'Building Regulations to carry out energy saving measures alongside certain types of building work'.

District heating

Removing barriers to the development of district heating for suitable communities.

Combined heat and power

Encouragement of combined heat and power and better use of surplus heat through carbon pricing mechanisms.

Dissecting the Heating and Energy Saving Strategy (HES)

OK I approached two accreditation schemes (on the day of release) for their take on this (figuring they'd be ahead of me) but it seems even they were still trying to thread a needle through it. So in an effort to condense what otherwise would be a huge article, I have limited comment and interpretation to provide instead, hopefully, (most of) the relevant information as it pertains to the EPC industry.

(All boldfaced text is my emphasis)

Training DEAs to provide home energy advice

(p.33) On working house-by-house and street-by-street, it says: 'We therefore plan to roll out a Home Energy Advice service providing tailored in-home advice, and train Domestic Energy Assessors to provide this advice.'

(p. 39) 'The Government is taking immediate action here. It is also proposing ways of providing far more comprehensive support to people, starting by making face-to-face, in-house advice from accredited advisors far more widely available.'

(p. 40) The visit would cover:

  • an assessment of the property’s energy efficiency;
  • advice on saving energy through behaviour change and measures to improve and maintain the property’s energy efficiency and its heating system, and the potential for low and zero carbon technologies, such as heat pumps or solar water heating;
  • help in locating reliable installers to make the improvements; and
  • guidance on the best order for making the different improvements and how to minimise disruption (Me - project management?).

Over 8,000 Domestic Energy Assessors ready to go

(p. 40) 'For home energy advice to succeed [...] the advisers providing the audits must be independent and trusted. Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs) [...] are well-equipped to fulfil this role. They already provide basic behavioural advice. There are currently 8000 qualified and accredited DEAs. There is, therefore, already a large cadre of qualified energy assessors who could take on this work.' (Plink - the sound of a penny dropping.)

Expanding the role of Domestic Energy Assessors

'The Government is keen to expand the role of DEAs in this way so that they can provide Home Energy Advice and detailed behavioural advice both to occupiers and the wider community. We are currently developing a new National Occupational Standard which will set out the skills and competences required for this new role.'

(p. 41) Hinting at the proposed new qualification for Community Energy Assessors, it says: 'With additional training, advisors will also be able to advise the wider community on energy reduction and sustainability, and renewable energy technologies.'

CPD, CERT and free training

'Where this training is provided as a Level 3 National Vocational Qualification, it will be funded through the Learning and Skills Council’s Train to Gain scheme in England, and will be free to those studying for it. We are also exploring the scope for this training to be delivered as part of the continuing professional development of DEAs.'

The following is part of the same paragraph but I've deliberately separated it because I find it curious. It adds:

In the CERT consultation, we are proposing that the DEA qualification should form the basis for the provision of advice under CERT.

I've not, at the time of writing, read the CERT consultation (or at least I don't think so - there are so many of the darned things!) so I may be way off-target with this but is it possible the above is straining to say that training for the DipDEA, may, in future, be funded through CERT? Or does it mean the 'provision of advice' may qualify for CERT funding?

Room for energy suppliers too?

(p. 40) Reaffirming the suspicions of many battle-weary and disblieving DEAs, it would seem that Govt. may be looking to provide a gap-to-market for the energy utils (note my emphasised text below which seems to tie-in with the above question RE: 'provision of advice' funding):

We are consulting alongside this document on a proposal that will enable energy suppliers to offer home energy advice under the CERT scheme. However, while we expect that some homes will benefit from advice under CERT, there is the potential for many more households to benefit.

As you can see from the inset (below), CERT is funded via a levy on the energy utils - do I sniff a two-tier approach here?

Question 4: Should we use Domestic Energy Assessors?

So all the above (plus the bits I've not covered) pertains to question 4 of the consultation, which asks: "How can home energy audits be made most useful, and do you agree that the Government should use Domestic Energy Assessors, who have been suitably trained, to deliver them as widely as possible?"

You know what to do if you want to be heard (response link below).

Triggering timely advice

Govt. is looking to widen the scope of when advice is offered (in addition to the current trigger points - ie., selling/renting):

  • when buildings are refurbished for use by elderly or disabled people.
  • during a major refit (to fall under Building Regs)
  • when circumstances change, such as when people retire or have children, and thermal comfort becomes particularly important.

From accredited energy adviser to accredited installer

(p. 43) It looks like the Govt. want ("some") works recommended in the 'EPC or home energy audit', to be passed on to accredited installers.

(Note the ambivalent distinction between 'EPC' and 'home energy audit' - IDEA Chairman, Jim Gillespie, has observed, on Asset Skills' draft NOS consultation forum, the apparent removal of reference to EPCs from the current draft NOS - it was there before.)

Community-wide energy efficiency

(p. 45) Domestic Energy "Advisers" (sic), it says, "will receive training so that they can advise groups and communities. They will be trained to provide accessible, local advice that can help to bring communities together to save energy and to reduce their CO2 emissions." Alluding, I suspect, to the current draft NOS on Community Energy Advisers.

More on Community Energy Advisers

On page 102 (on the subject of district heating), it alludes to what I believe is the role of Community Energy Advisers:

Energy Performance Certificates will be one key tool to help householders and developers understand the potential for improving the energy performance of their properties, including the role connecting to district heating can play and, in future, could include information and recommendations about how connecting to district heating could help increase energy efficiency of properties.

(Contrived?) increase in home valuations

The Govt. is consulting with the RICS to "explore the extent to which energy performance is reflected in the value of a property". It believes the range of measures fitted into a home could add value (and so payback monies spent) if only those pesky property professionals would devise a way to exploit it.


On average each household currently pays an additional £35 per year on their gas and electric bills to fund the CERT (Carbon Emissions Reduction Target) subsidies.

The scheme is currently set to end March 2011 but looks certain to be extended until at least December 2012

Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) is a £350 million purse to fund free and discounted energy efficiency and heating measures for around 100 low-income communities. Fulfillment is an obligation on energy suppliers and electricity generators.

Both CERT and CESP form part of the Home Energy Savings Programme (HESP), announced 11 September 2008.

But, as we're all painfully aware, the theory falls down in a declining market.

Voluntary code of practice

(p. 86) To stimulate further take-up of energy efficiency and carbon reduction measures, the Govt. seeks to design a voluntary code of practice for builders and private landlords (and so confesses to a total lack of touch with the real world, IMO).

Builders would sign up to offer householders 'energy efficiency work when undertaking renovation work.'

Landlords would, 'pledge not to rent out properties below a specified minimum standard for energy efficiency.' H'yeah right!

It adds: 'This could help to tackle the problem of landlords having little incentive to improve the energy efficiency of their properties when the tenants pay the energy bills.'

Putting this into perspective then: there's no obligation now, and there'll be no obligation with a voluntary code of practice in place - balance restored!

Building on Energy Performance Certificates

(p. 87) The document admits there is scope to use the EPC 'to support further intervention' but states more time is needed for the system to 'bed down'. Govt. has commissioned research to assess the impact of EPCs. The first phase of the study will report its findings in June 2009.

Strengthening regulations on EPC promotion

Rather meekly, IMO, it proposes - in line with the recast EPBD 2 currently under consultation anyway - to require estate agents to 'feature the EPC rating more prominently', which might include:

  • putting the EPC rating on the first page of the marketing material;
  • including the EPC rating in all material that is displayed in the window of the estate agents; or
  • showing the EPC alongside all material that is marketed on the internet.

It also proposes to widen access to the EPC database to the likes of the Energy Savings Trust (the CLG consulted on this last year already!).

So question 19 asks:

Should we require marketing material for property sales and rental to feature the EPC rating more prominently? If so how?

What delivery bodies or industry groups could be given access to the EPC database, and how could they make best use of it whilst ensuring that it is not misused?

Please support your answers with evidence.

Building regulations - widening 'consequential improvements'

I only include this because, in theory, it may open the possibility for another EPC intervention (although it doesn't say so - but I think the EPBD2 does, I think).

Green refurbs

According to the Federation of Master Builders, the energy efficiency refurbishment industry could be worth £3.5 to £6.5 billion per annum.

Building a Greener Britain

Again, in line with the current EPBD2 consultation, the CLG is to review, in 2010, how it may include energy efficiency refurbishment on all buildings (including homes) into the Building Regs when they undergo a scheme of works (such as extensions).

Currently, Building Regulations in England and Wales require consequential improvements during some types of building work to buildings above 1000 m2.


There are, in total, 29 questions. You can respond online via the DECC consultation page.

Read the entire consultation document: Heat & Energy Saving Strategy consultation.

Queries about the policy can be addressed by:

Telephone: 020 72156788

Fax: 0117 3169512

This was really enjoyable to write-up... really enjoyable.

[Update: there's now a similar write-up on the CESP consultation]

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