The decision to renovate your home could soon get trickier – the government’s mulling over regulations that would require you by law to make energy efficiency improvements to your home when you renovate.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is proposing that when you’re carrying out renovations or improvements to your home, you’ll be required to spend a percentage of the value of those works on what they term ‘consequential improvements’.
The requirements could extend to all improvements available through the new Green Deal scheme, such as a new boiler or solid wall insulation.
How much will it cost? Well, the proposals say that if you’re planning an extension you might have to spend up to, or even beyond, 10% of the cost of the planned works on extra energy efficiency improvements.
The proposed rules will also affect you if you’re planning on installing a new boiler or replacing some or all of your windows. Of course, these are already required by law to be energy efficient, but under the new rules you would trigger a requirement to install energy efficiency improvements too – loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, hot water cylinder insulation or draughtproofing.
A boost for the Green Deal
Such regulations already exist for extensions of 1,000 sq metres or more. That’s pretty massive, so doesn’t affect many renovation projects, but the new proposals would mean a much broader range of home improvements would be covered by this.
This could also push a lot of people to take up the Green Deal – the government’s plan to help people finance energy efficiency measures through loans paid back via energy bills. That scheme comes with its own set of challenges for consumers, such as early repayment penalties and potentially inaccurate assessment procedures.
We’re worried that making people carry out these ‘consequential improvements’ will put them off wanting to improve their home. In some cases this could be dangerous; for instance, if you chose not to replace an old boiler because you didn’t want to pay an extra 10% for energy efficiency improvements.
This isn’t small beer either, every year there are 1.4m boiler replacements, 1m homes that have windows replaced and 200,000 extensions or loft conversions.
Consumer research carried out for the Energy Saving Trust suggests that people will feel aggrieved at being forced to carry out extra energy efficiency work. We think there’s a place for a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to encouraging greener homes, but this seems to be a touch heavy handed and risks alienating people further from the very concept of energy efficiency.
We’re also concerned that the government hasn’t addressed the practicalities of the process for consumers. It will be far more complicated to arrange extra building works on top of the improvements they were originally planning.
Of course, energy efficiency is really important and can be a simple and effective way of saving money on your energy bills, but this kind of approach could undermine efforts in this area. There’s also the worry that it could force people into the hands of ‘cowboy’ builders.
So what do you make of these plans – are you planning an extension or a new boiler? Do you think it’s fair to expect people to do this, or would it put you off wanting to do it at all?