Monday, 10 September 2007

We should welcome HIPs in the Home

We should all welcome the extension of the requirement for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) today (10th September), as part of a Home Improvement Pack (HIP) to three-bedroom homes in the UK. The certificate will show the home's energy efficiency on a scale from A to G, similar to that used for several years on fridges, as well as indicating its environmental performance in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Giving consumers information about their energy performance should encourage the market for low energy homes. It may also provide an opportunity for sellers to raise the value of their homes by making simple energy improvements prior to sale. Yet the Government almost bungled the introduction of the certificates as part of HIPs, with delays to the implementation date that undermined confidence in the market, coming under pressure from an alliance of estate agents and surveyors keen to entrench their members' position in the market.

These certificates provide just enough information to help homebuyers choose the most efficient properties. This will also provide an incentive for sellers to make energy savings upgrades to their homes before putting them onto the market, as they will know that buyers will be able to see the resultant benefits. At a rough estimate, if 5% of homeowners were to take action to improve their property by one energy rating band, this could still lead to annual savings of over 50,000 tonnes of CO2, the main gas contributing to global climate change.

Energy labels are, in general, a Good Thing1 for both consumers and the environment. So although the Conservatives have been unhelpful at times over their introduction on homes (as part of HIPs), it is pleasing to see recent press reports2 that John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith are recommending to the Tories that energy labels should be extended to entertainment products (so-called brown goods). This is even without waiting for instructions from Europe (or perhaps, especially if not being imposed by Europe). This return of bipartisanship is to be welcomed, and we hope that it will extend to the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (as part of HIPs) in all homes.

1 As might have been approved by Sellar & Yeatman in 1066 and all that. OK, they might not have approved of labels if they thought they were coming from Europe rather than England…

2 Sunday Telegraph, 9 September 2007

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