EPC – Cut home energy costs
DIY around the home may not be everyone’s hobby and many householders prefer to get a specialist in to sort out maintenance and repair items..but maintaining essential parts of the home can quickly pay dividends on the time and energy spent through energy not being wasted..
Just as important as keeping other items of daily life like the car and personal health in best condition, so should the home be kept well-maintained to ensure cost-efficient function.
That cost-efficient maintenance in the home is not only about spending money required to replace broken or worn-out items but also to save money over the longer term by reducing the home’s running costs e.g. utility bills.
This can be done by spending more at the time of purchase by buying high energy-efficiency rated equipment e.g. oven/cooker and washing-machine level A+++ ..the higher cost on purchase is offset by lower running costs, lower electricity use, over the life of the equipment ..the more the cooking/washing the quicker the return ..although of course cooking and washing less would also reduce the actual cost.
Old energy-inefficient items together with energy heating and air-conditioning energy in the home wasted through leaks in the home’s fabric are the major cause of cost-inefficiency.
Equipment should be as modern as budget allows and the homes’ thermal envelope, it’s skin, must be leak-tight and weather-proof and kept well-maintained.
All countries’ governments are keen to see that their householders understand the concept of achieving maximum energy-efficiency in the home.
Gibraltar government’s National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (2015-2020) states that “Improving energy efficiency means that we can reduce our energy bills, reduce energy demand, increase energy security, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through cost-effective means, and contribute more towards an environmentally sustainable way of life”
A modern apartment in Gibraltar does not have same issues as the older housing stock in Gibraltar.
By comparison, of the UK’s total 26m households 5m homes were built before WW2 and 5m during the 19C Industrial Revolution, meaning that UK is the country in Europe with the oldest and least energy-efficient housing stock.
As well as maintaining the fabric of the home, what goes on inside to operate the home is also important for best energy-efficiency.
The efficiency of the household appliances, age/type of heating/aircon equipment and the way they are used, plus non-LED lighting are all contributors to the overall daily energy-efficiency of the home and its associated cost in monthly utility bills.
Also affecting performance are familiar old chestnuts such as not leaving lights on and taking shorter showers, reduce PC standby use, and run washing machines on half-load or economy programme.
The energy-saving and efficiency recommendations of Gibraltar government’s Thinking Green department include “Make the most of Gibraltar’s good weather and dry clothes outside whenever possible, set your washing machine to 30° and cook wisely and keep a lid on pots and pans to reduce heat loss”
All EU countries are struggling to find effective solutions to hold down the rising levels of energy use, and reducing energy wastage is an important part of those solutions.
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) was introduced in 2007 under the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, with which UK and Gibraltar have complied together with other EU countries.
Householders are already familiar with the Energy Certification labels for household appliances, from kettles to cookers, showing as A+++ as being the most energy-efficient ..now the home itself has to be allocated a Label, shown from A to G on an Energy Performance Certificate.
The EPC provides a recommendation report with information on the home’s energy use and its carbon dioxide emissions and suggestions on how to reduce both.. a central register is set up in each country as a collection point for energy use data from which the public can check a home’s energy-efficiency rating before buying or renting it.
Gibraltar’s government Energy Department explains “an Energy Performance Certificate is needed whenever a property, commercial and residential, is built, sold or rented and all landlords must order an EPC for potential buyers or tenants before marketing their properties to sell or let. The rating measures the energy and carbon emission efficiency of the home using a grade from ‘A’ to ‘G’. An ‘A’ rating is the most efficient, while ‘G’ is the least efficient.”
The EPC includes information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs with recommendations about how best to reduce energy usage and save money. The EPC is valid for ten years with a fixed penalty of £200 per dwelling for non-compliance with getting the rating organised.
In Gibraltar, an EPC is only valid when the assessment and Report is produced by one of the government’s twenty or so accredited energy assessors using specialist government-supplied software
In UK, the number of A rated homes nationally is so low that the figures are not sufficient to be rated in the stats ..figure for B rate homes is 3%, with C and D together at 80% ..E, F and G together make up 4%.
Research from the UK Green Building Council estimates that to improve a property to take it from an F or G to a minimum E standard would have a cost on average of only £1,400 so an improvement in the overall rating level is very achievable by the individual homeowners.
Homeowners have to arrange and pay for an EPC but are not obliged to act on the recommendations in the Report.
Putting the recommended measures in place could make the property more attractive for future sale or rent by making it more energy-efficient. Future users facing higher energy-costs may well see an energy-tight home with low running costs as a priority factor in deciding on which new home to select.
Feature article by Jon Lewes