RCEP proposes energy efficiency labels for home sellers’ packs

Homebuyers could find it easier to discover how energy efficient a property is if the UK Government takes up an energy labelling proposal from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP).

The RCEP has written to Housing Minister Nick Raynsford calling for an ‘energy label’ to be included in proposed home sellers’ packs. The Government intends to make these packs compulsory for anyone putting their home on the market. The packs will cover much of the information which a prospective purchaser currently has to pay a surveyor or valuer to gather.

“The Royal Commission sees the introduction of these packs as a unique opportunity to stimulate interest among householders in the energy efficiency of housing,” wrote the Commission’s Chairman, Sir Tom Blundell. “If the threat of climate change is to be countered, the UK is likely to have to make substantial improvements in energy efficiency in all sectors. This will be a long term task and it is therefore essential to start now.”

These labels would give purchasers information about the building’s energy efficiency and average heating bills. The information would initially cover how much double glazing the property has, the depth of loft insulation and the type of central heating system. This information should be organised into one comprehensive section on energy efficiency, the Commission has proposed.

In the long term, the Commission says the seller’s pack should include the results of a full energy efficiency survey. These surveys would give the house a SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) rating between 1 – extremely inefficient – and 100 (highly efficient and environmentally friendly). They would also provide a basis on which to estimate likely fuel bills and advice on the most cost-effective energy saving investments. SAP surveys are already carried out on new housing in order to comply with building regulations.

The Commission believes that if SAP surveys were combined with a Homebuyer Survey, the cost would be greatly reduced because of the overlap in the work involved.

The Consumers’ Association welcomed the RCEP’s proposal. “Selling a house is certainly a good point in the lifecycle of a property to do something about energy efficiency,” the Association’s Principal Policy Advisor, Sharon Darcy told edie. “Anything that improves energy efficiency is to be welcomed. But it will be necessary to look at the framework in which energy labels are introduced. The labels will need to include supplementary information: for example, the telephone number of the Local Energy Advice Centre. If it’s just a cosmetic exercise, then the costs won’t be worth it for either the seller or the buyer.”

  • Total inland consumption of fuels in the UK was 2.4 per cent lower during August to October 1999 than that recorded for the same period a year ago, according to provisional energy production and consumption published by the DTI. Consumption of gas rose by 4.7 per cent, while consumption of coal, oil and primary electricity (nuclear and hydro)fell by 9.1 per cent, 4.0 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively. Consumption of coal fell because of lower use at power stations. Total use of petroleum in the period was 19.6 million tonnes, 4.9 per cent lower than a year earlier. Energy use decreased by 3.8 per cent while non-energy use decreased by 1.7 per cent. Deliveries of unleaded petrol were 5.8 per cent higher due to the continuing move away from leaded petrol in the UK. Fuel oil deliveries fell by 35.4 per cent, continuing its decline as a source of energy for industry and electricity generation.

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