Columnists: Rod Janssen, Independent consultant

Published on: 19 Jun 2008

Confessions of a Sinner

I am selling my house in London and recently had the required energy performance audit in order to get the obligatory certificate. Well, we all know about this policy instrument within the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Much to the horror of my colleagues my three-storey house is rated “E”. Gulp. Well, I knew it would be bad. We live in a Victorian brick house in a conservation area. Under the terms of this conservation area, we cannot have double-glazed windows and we cannot change any of the external features of the house. We knew that when we bought the house.

But this certification process left me with more questions than answers, not so much about my behaviour as about the audit and where it is going. The audit lasted less than half an hour, probably closer to 15 minutes. The auditor asked me what loft insulation I had instead of checking himself (which I’ve subsequently heard he is to do). He told me that I illegally put in double-glazed windows in the kitchen when I replaced the old rotten ones. I explained there was no heating in the kitchen other than the stove, but that was no excuse, so I was in error there.

With no basement, he did not ask me if I had any insulation under the flooring. He asked if I had compact fluorescent light bulbs and I said that about 90 % are. He was to verify but he didn’t. He did not ask me if I did any draught proofing (which I had) and didn’t even look to see if I had.

He admired my new condensing gas boiler that is used for both hot water and heating and then complained that my thermostat in the other room was poor quality.

I got the results several days later with the big “E”. It said that my current energy use is 339 kWh/m 2 per year but then calculated that my potential was 339 kWh/m 2 per year! There is nothing I can do that costs less than € 800. The three recommendations were replacing single glazed windows, which I can’t; add 50 mm internal or external wall insulation (I can’t externally and could internally at a cost that I don’t even want to think of and my wife would divorce me if I touched our internal decorating); and I could add photovoltaic panels (which I can’t because it is a conservation house). The replacement of the windows would save me € 58 a year. It did not give me a payback estimate but you can guess. The wall insulation would save me € 280 per year and again no estimate of cost. The PV panels would save me € 51 a year. On the last recommendation, I had a few years ago gone to a PV dealer who calculated that the simple payback was 25 years, so even if I were not in a conservation area, it is a no brainer. With the three recommendations, I could get my rating up to a “C”.

The energy performance certificate went to my real estate agent but he does not use it in marketing the house. The potential buyer is not told the rating unless he or she specifically asks for it.

So, I don’t know if I’m further advanced for this. All I know is that the auditor grumbled that there are five times more auditors in England than the market needs and that he is not getting enough business. He complained that the qualification process is bordering on being a farce. And this isn’t helping me (the seller) or the potential buyer.

Stay tuned. I think there is more to this story. And I’m wondering what this can mean when we revisit the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive to make it have more impact. It certainly can’t have less impact for homes like mine.

The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.

Other columns by Rod Janssen

Oct 2016

Apr 2016

Nov 2011