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Who will perform the role of Home Energy Adviser?

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 23-May-09 05:55:50 PM

Unconfirmed news emerged yesterday on the Home Inspector Forum (subscription required) claiming that the CLG, on Thursday, informed ABBE that the NOS developed by Asset Skills for the Home and Community Energy Advisor qualifications, have been scrapped in favour of City and Guilds’s Energy Awareness course.

[ Update (6th Jul 09): How To Become a Home Energy Advisor - in three days! ]

A formal announcement is thought to be expected just before Parliament goes into summer recess.

From what I’ve been picking up over the last few weeks, this may mark the point at which many under-worked DEAs will – not without expectation - meet with disappointment.

Let’s just cut to the chase and first remind ourselves that all noises from the CLG, Asset Skills, and the consultation documents themselves, heavily leaned towards embracing the DipDEA as the starting block towards a Home Energy Adviser (HEA) qualification; and that only qualified DEAs would have access to this role.

Everything from the CLG-hosted DEA Workshop meetings, attended by DEAs and rep orgs over several months, to Asset Skills’ draft NOS for HEA and CEA (Community Energy Adviser) roles, supported this conclusion.

Apart from question four in the HES consultation, that is, which left the door ajar:

…do you agree that the Government should use Domestic Energy Assessors, who have been suitably trained, to deliver them as widely as possible?

Prepare yourself.

Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes (EEPH)

From past minutes of various meetings hosted by the EEPH (even dating way before EPCs rolled out), I have been quite surprised at how much of what was discussed made it into policy – so the following should be taken seriously, IMO.

As we (should) know, on February 12th 2009 the DECC and CLG announced consultations for the Heat and Energy Saving Strategy (HES), Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) and Amendments to the Carbon Emission Reduction Target (CERT), now closed.

Just two weeks later (26th Feb) an advisory workshop, organised by the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes’ Energy Advice Providers Group, convened in London to discuss “Developing energy efficiency advice provision in the UK and transforming attitudes and actions”.

The workshop – one of a number held subsequently it appears - was attended by "policy makers, practitioners, energy suppliers and installers".

Paul Chambers of DECC conducted a presentation which may provide some clue as to his department’s thinking behind question four of the HES, at that time.

According to the minutes of the workshop, Mr Chambers asked his audience:

  • Should advice be included at all?
  • What qualifications should advisors be required to have?
  • The nature of the physical assessment and link with EPCs;
  • Whether the proposed carbon score is justified.
  • The requirement for follow-up to advice – whether this is needed and if so in what form.

So despite talk (within the HES consultation and DEA Workshops) of free training for DEAs to qualify as HEAs, and a recognition of a surplus DEA workforce to draw from (‘There is, therefore, already a large cadre of qualified energy assessors who could take on this work'), and that at this time Asset Skills were still in consultation with DEAs over its draft NOS, DECC, at least, seemingly want to wedge a massive crowbar into the door left ajar.

A register of delegates is not listed within the report - apart from presenters - which leads me to assume that only delegates thought most likely to respond to the consultation, and regarded as most instrumental to a "successful" roll-out, were invited.

I am not aware of any EPC industry reps attending (IHI, IDEA, Pro DEA).

Call me cynical but it’s almost as if the CLG wrote the original proposals but now DECC wants to challenge them – CLG is not named as present at the workshop.

Different strokes, different folks

The report summarises the meeting saying there was “broad agreement” amongst attendees that "the core skills (interpersonal, communication etc) required to be an effective energy advisor are different to those needed to be an effective energy surveyor or installer."

From ‘independence” to “transparency”

Feedback from attendees hint at who may control the provision of advice:

There was some discussion as to whether advisors could still be regarded as trust worthy and independent if employed by the supplier of a product or service. It was suggested that transparency may be a better term than independence in this context.

No prizes for guessing what that means.

Skills needed to become DEA “insufficient”

It goes on to say there was “less agreement on who should provide advice.”

One view expressed that the task was so great that no group should be excluded, though some did feel that the skills needed to become a DEA, were insufficient and inappropriate for this type of advice.

Monkeys and peanuts

The CERT+ proposes a “£10 uplift” (see inset) for the provision of advice which participants felt – obviously – would mean no more than a few minutes of advice, and that the “quality of advice at this rate would be poor”.

Home Energy Advice in CERT – Carbon scores

The provision of Home Energy Advice under CERT proposals will be worth a fixed carbon score saving of 0.675 tonnes CO2; equivalent to 1% of electricity (2% gas) savings in an average household for a lifetime of 7.5 years.

An uplift worth an estimated £10 to utility suppliers is proposed for able-to pay households, rising to £20 for priority groups.

Who should provide advice?

The sheer number of suggestions as to who might offer home energy advice will provide little comfort to under-worked DEAs hoping to get something back from their DipDEA.

They include:

  • ESTAC advisors,
  • local authorities,
  • energy suppliers,
  • ESCOs,
  • insulation companies,
  • DEAs,
  • NEA,
  • independent advisors,
  • health advisors, and
  • retailers.

At another stakeholder meeting on 25th March 2009 (“CERT+ consultation seminar”), attended by energy suppliers, trade bodies, “the supply chain”, and government officials, the question of using DEAs was raised again in the Q&A session.

There was discussion about whether advice should only be provided by DEA – the consultation is open to suggestions of other people who could provide this information. The proposal in consultation is there for people to comment and improve on.

CERT+ consultation seminar minutes.

(As an aside it was also “suggested that an EPC costs between £80 and £100”.)

Don't know about you, but if the headline to this post is confirmed - and I have no reason to doubt it won't - then, put together with all the above, the door looks set to be opened wide to... who?

[Update (14 Jul 09): Legal Definition of Home Energy Advice outlined.]

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