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Potential for energy bill savings are huge

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 16 December 2009 at 9:32 am

If new boilers were installed in all homes sold in a year, where recommended in the energy performance certificate, it would lead to total cash savings of almost £80 million on energy bills.

On the same day last week that the Chancellor announced the boiler scrappage scheme in his pre-budget report, National Energy Services published research on reducing carbon emissions from homes. It found that encouraging owners to replace older boilers, via a boiler scrappage scheme, has enormous potential to make carbon and cost savings.

The size of this potential is staggering. By analysing data from over 300,000 Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) issued for homes marketed for sale in England and Wales between January 2008 and March 2009, NES  found that improvements to heating systems are recommended for more than two-thirds of homes. In other words, more than two thirds of the homes currently being sold in England and Wales are heated using a central heating boiler that costs much more to run than it should, and emits much more damaging carbon dioxide than it should.

As well as the annual cash savings of almost £80m, carbon dioxide pollution would be reduced by 616,000 tonnes a year, if new boilers were installed, when recommended in an EPC.  To put this into context, the annual carbon dioxide emissions from a single new home is typically no more than 3 tonnes.  So the amount of carbon dioxide pollution being emitted every year, unnecessarily, by these existing homes is equivalent to the emissions from building an extra 200,000 new homes, every year – about twice as many as are actually built!

So, is it reasonable that these homes are allowed to be sold in this state, when an investment of usually much less than a couple of thousand pounds per home could put it right?  Sellers are advised to spend money on decorating and 'staging' their home for prospective buyers, and could easily spend this amount on what is essentially a cosmetic makeover with no long term benefit. Now I fully accept that home sellers are not spending money on staging their homes for any other reason than that it increases the chance of finding a buyer. If buyers are more impressed by an uncluttered property than by one which is cheap to run, then the seller who chooses to spend their limited budget in this way seems to be making a wise choice.

But let's now compare this to the action of a private car seller who wants to find a buyer for his car.  To increase the chance of finding a buyer, he pays for a full valet to make the old banger look nice, but doesn't have an MOT carried out because that would be more expensive – it would require him to deal with the leaky exhaust, rusty brakes and various other faults.  Would the average car buyer think that was reasonable, or would he instead think that the seller had behaved badly?

Cars are required to have an annual MOT after they are three years old for good reason, and buyers usually look for a car with a long MOT left to run. The mandatory nature of the MOT is largely intended to reduce the number of unsafe cars on the road, but the emissions test conducted as part of the MOT also benefits us all by reducing noxious emissions.  Perhaps it's time to view the act of selling a house, with emissions that wouldn't pass a MOT style emissions test, as equally unacceptable!

Click on this link to find out if your boiler is G rated, and due for the scrapheap.

Photo by sunshinecity

About the author: @linniR is a consultant, a freelance writer and a Domestic Energy Assessor accredited with the NHER scheme, and she enjoys all three.  She tweets regularly on issues relating to energy efficiency and renewables and provides consultancy, especially in relation to training needs.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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