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How to send a simple signal that energy efficiency is important

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 September 2012 at 10:49 am

We can bang on about the importance of energy effiiciency as much and as loudly as we want, but maybe there are more subtle ways of stating its importance and raising it up people's consciousness. On my recent holiday in France I saw two examples of simple, yet really effective awareness (and consciousness) raising that it would be wonderful if we could adopt over here too.

As I walked past an estate agent's window, I was surprised to find that virtually all the properties advertised in the window had the energy efficiency rating displayed prominently. And it wasn't just one estate agent - it was every one I saw.

This is a major contrast with estate agents in England, where you're more likely to be told that the EPC is an annoying bit of red tape, and I've never seen one in a window.

There were a minority of ads which said that the energy data wasn't available for this property, and it had the effect of making you wonder what they had to hide!

If we want to help people to understand their energy use better, and to realise that the choices they make will have a huge impact on their energy use - and of course energy bills, then making it compulsory to display this information on the front of house sale and rental particulars would send out a strong message that it matters.

The other sign I liked is less directly relevant to the normal content of this blog, although still vital to the success of attempts to reduce energy used in transport.

I was in Haute Provence which, despite the heat, is a popular place for cyclists. Most of the roads that we cycled along had signs displayed regularly along them with a picture of a cyclist and a clear indication that there should be a 1.5m gap between any overtaking car and the cyclist (see picture above). 

This is fantastic on so many levels. Firstly it says that cyclists are legitimate road users. Next, that they should be given space. But most importantly, drivers take notice.

Cycling at home in Devon I'm constantly holding my breath and hoping that nothing comes round the blind corner, as yet another car squeezes past, pushing me into the hedge. It was bliss to ride on roads where cyclists are treated with respect!


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

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3 comments - read them below or add one

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 23 May 2013 at 7:37 am

Interesting to hear that @RA Brown. Maybe it will begin to become the case here now that EPC rates have to be included in advertising. I've noticed that virtually all the estate agents in my local paper have started including EPC bands for every property (mostly D and E in this area), which at least gives an impression of it being important information.

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R A Brown Heating Services Ltd

R A Brown Heating Services LtdComment left on: 22 May 2013 at 2:22 pm

To add to your comments on the EPCs on French properties; when studying the information from an French Estate Agent recently I noticed the marked difference in price between a more energy efficient property and a very inefficient one. This makes it obvious that carrying out energy saving measures in France seems to directly link to a higher value in the property market. If British home owners were as confident that installing energy saving measures to their properties in the UK would enhance the selling price, more people would be encouraged to carry out improvements with less 'kerb appeal' but more energy saving value.

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Linn Rafferty

Linn Rafferty from JTec Energy PerformanceComment left on: 7 September 2012 at 6:06 pm

Great blog, Cathy. The French approach is certainly a good one. I wondered if you were aware that the law on EPCs changed on April 6 this year? Since then, within seven days of the start of marketing, the EPC must be available to anyone viewing a property, and must be provided alongside any advertising, either in print or online. Landlords and letting agents must also provide the EPC to a renter or purchaser before they sign any tenancy agreement or purchase contract.

There will be a lot of homes still for sale that legitimately don't have to comply with this, since those on the market before midnight on April 5 are exempt if they already had an old-style EPC. Rentals, though, don’t usually hang around very long, so just about all rentals now being advertised should fall under these new rules. Letting and estate agents must also display the first page of the EPC with any online marketing – this can be a reduced size image, or black-and-white instead of colour so long as clicking on the image opens a legible copy of the first page.

I don’t think this is as good as the French approach, but perhaps if it were complied with it would be a step in the right direction.

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