http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/mai ... een122.xml
Sarah Lonsdale in today's Telegraph wrote:Eco homes: Getting green rating is 'waste of energy'
Certificates that were supposed to save CO2 are proving a letdown, says Sarah Lonsdale
Adam Dadeby did everything right when he improved his home to save on energy consumption. Since moving into his three-bedroom Victorian terrace in Stoke Newington 10 years ago, he has spent thousands of pounds "retro-greening" it.
Adam Dadeby and wife Erica
Left cold: Adam Dadeby and wife Erica are unimpressed with the EPC scheme
He replaced the draughty sash windows with double-glazing, put 10in of insulation in his roof, insulated the floors, replaced his tungsten and halogen light bulbs with energy-efficient ones, fitted thermostatic valves on his radiators and spent ?3,500 installing six square metres of solar hot water panels on his roof.
The measures have paid off: his gas bill has halved from ?30 a month to ?15 and his electricity bill has shrunk from ?45 a month to ?21.
So when he paid ?350 for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) as part of a Home Information Pack, with a view to putting his house on the market, he was disappointed to receive a lowly E rating for energy consumption.
Under government legislation, all houses and flats for sale must have an EPC, which ranks houses on a scale of A to G, with the most efficient receiving an A rating.
The certificates were introduced last year to comply with a European Union directive by showing householders how to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. It was estimated that they would save eight million tons of carbon emissions from UK buildings by 2010.
The trouble is, they are not working. The projected carbon saving has shrunk to 1.6 million tons, because of delays in launching the scheme and in making it an offence punishable by a fine to market a home without obtaining the certificate. As a result, houses and flats are still being traded without buyers seeing an EPC.
The Labour peer Lord Berkeley, who exchanged and completed on a two-bedroom flat in Bloomsbury in February, has not seen the property's certificate, despite asking for one. "Now it's too late - the flat is mine. To be honest, if I had seen it, it would have been a disaster. It's in an old Victorian house and the windows just leak heat," he says.
Lord Berkeley's experience underlines why EPCs are not working and why, even though they have been accompanying house sales since August, they probably haven't yet saved a single ton of CO2.
Gillian Charlesworth, of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, says: "EPCs need to be stand-alone energy-saving devices, accompanied by financial incentives, so that people can make changes to their homes to boost their rating."
"The inspector was at my house for 20 minutes and he peered into the loft only briefly," says Dadeby, an IT business analyst. "Erica, my wife, and I volunteered most of the information, otherwise he would not have known half the features we installed. But all these measures I made seem to have made no difference to our rating. Other Victorian terraces in the area for sale also have an E rating. I think that's the standard rating they give, no matter what improvements you have made."
Caroline Flint, the housing minister, said recently that more than 700,000 homes had one of the certificates. On average, each saved ?300 if its EPC recommendations were implemented. Dadeby remains unimpressed: "As far as I'm concerned, the EPC is pretty meaningless. If home owners are to be helped to reduce their fuel bills in the coming years, when fuel poverty is going to become ever more desperate, the Government has to change the system so that these pieces of paper can be taken seriously.
"At the moment they're just a waste of money."
Improve your EPC rating
# If your boiler is more than 15 years old, replace it with a condensing one
# Insulate your hot-water cylinder
# Install 10in of loft insulation; cavity-wall or solid-wall insulation; heating controls that include thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves; double-glazing; and solar hot-water or solar photovoltaic panels
# Consider a secondary source of heating (eg, wood-burning stove)
# Replace inefficient light bulbs.