I’d welcome a visit from a friendly (and free) home energy assessor if I got some sound advice on making it more energy efficient. But do these schemes manage to deliver practical, tailored help for everybody?
Free advice on cutting your energy bills, particularly as price hikes begin to bite, certainly sounds appealing.
London Re:New, the latest in a line of such schemes, promises a ‘whole house approach that aims to offer something for every resident’ in participating areas.
It includes free installation of simple improvements such as radiator panels, water-saving showerheads, draught excluders and hot water tank jackets, plus advice on which bigger energy efficiency tasks would be suitable to undertake (and whether you can get them at a subsidised rate, or for free).
Energy-saving? Not for my home!
If the scheme opens in my area, I’d be tempted to give it a go – but I am a little put off from my experience of previous ‘recommendations’ I’ve received about my home.
When I moved into my flat (more than three years ago), I was disappointed with how few of the points put forward in the property’s Energy Performance Certificate or an energy efficiency report from my council were actually actionable for my circumstances.
Loft insulation? I live in a first floor flat in a converted house. Cavity wall insulation? The house is Edwardian, so doesn’t have cavity walls. Solid wall insulation? I live in a conservation area (meaning the external variety would probably be out). Energy efficient boiler? I’ve already got one. Energy-saving light bulbs? We have to switch to those anyway.
Green Deal coming soon…
The government’s flagship Green Deal, meanwhile, is also on the horizon. Due to launch in late 2012, it’s a new incentive scheme meaning you won’t have to pay upfront for the cost of installing energy-saving measures in your home.
I was interested to read that the National Trust, Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings have written to Energy Secretary Chris Huhne asking for specific consideration to be given to properties built before 1919.
They argue, for example, that ‘sealing up interiors and installing insulation can stop an old property from being able to breathe’, and want period property experts to be more closely involved in plans for the scheme.
Individual, impartial info
The success of the Green Deal will rely on professionals visiting our homes and making recommendations that are as tailored as possible. Here at Which?, we’re pleased to hear the proposed legislation being drawn up will include that advice ‘must be impartial’, too – it’s something we’ve been lobbying for.
I’m no housing stock expert but it seems clear that efficiency advice has to be personal and practical for where you live. Have you installed energy-saving measures in your home following an energy efficiency report or home audit from an energy assessor? Or did you come away disappointed?