Energy Efficiency

The matter of energy efficiency is an important one for the CPA for a variety of reasons.  In the first instance, it refers to regulations, measures and products used to improve the energy efficiency of UK homes and commercial buildings; most commonly the older, existing stock versus new homes or buildings.  This is very relevant to many construction product manufacturers and distributors because it represents a sizeable market opportunity.  If we consider that, according to the CPA economic forecasts, the repair, maintenance and improvement market (“RM&I”) for UK housing alone is nearly £25 billion per year, and that most homeowners have been shown to seek energy efficiency improvements as part of a larger home renovation project, it is clear why many of our members are interested.  New boilers and hot water systems, insulation, glass and windows are just some of the products which would be utilised when making a property more energy efficient. 

In addition, the issue of energy efficiency can be very emotive, as it invariably involves related discussions about the occupants’ comfort and health, the costs to those occupants in higher fuel bills, and the wider impact to society and the planet from wasted resources (e.g., heat) and increasing carbon emissions.  Because of the many factors involved, the issue has attracted a wide range of interested parties.  In fact, the CPA’s own research has found over 120 active agencies, bodies, organisations or formal groups involved, each with their own approach, philosophy and policy recommendations.

It would be fair to say that the consensus across nearly all these parties is that the issue of energy efficiency remains insufficiently valued or supported by government policies.  With that in mind, and recognising the key role our members occupy by making and selling the products which will be part of any solutions, the CPA has been very actively engaged with industry and government.

There are approximately 23 million dwellings in the UK, a large percentage of which fall below ‘adequate’ in respect of energy efficiency, according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The “English Housing Survey” identifies the UK’s housing stock as the oldest in Europe. The UK has over 20% of homes built before 1919, a further 16% before 1945. More than 55% of the existing stock was built before 1964, a period before national regulations were in place and some years before energy efficiency controls were first introduced.

The Survey summarised the case for potential improvement as follows:

  • More than 16 million homes could benefit from one or more measures to improve energy efficiency;
  • Over 70% could benefit from boiler replacement;
  • Half could benefit from improvements to the wall or roof insulation standard.
  • Around 1.7 million homes have damp problems, characterised around rising damp, penetrating damp and serious condensation, and promoting mould growth.

The greatest potential, not surprisingly, is with the oldest and owner occupied detached dwellings.

The CPA have been involved in a number of programmes to identify viable and robust approaches.  Of particular note, beginning in 2015, the CPA were asked to lead elements of work in a major independent Review of consumer advice, protection, standards and enforcement for UK home energy efficiency and renewable energy measures (the “Bonfield Review”; see accompanying tab).

In addition, there is a renewed focus on “as-built performance versus design” identified in the Zero Carbon Hub’s "End of Term Report”, which the CPA and members supported. On the analysis and guidance side, DECC are reviewing and intending to produce guidance to influence on-site quality of installations.

Nonetheless, our members strongly believe that such is the scale of the challenge and the chaotic nature of activity around the issue, that concerted action is overdue. Therefore, in 2015 the CPA have undertaken to create a five-point plan which sets out a basis for organising and structuring the wider energy efficiency sector to enable sensible progress:

  • Planned thought leadership.
    The sector needs a relevant programme and agenda, from government and industry leaders, generating a call to focus activities behind a well-considered and agreed direction and set of objectives.  
  • A commonly agreed framework of regulations and standards.
    In order to have effective performance objectives and solutions there needs to be a set of regulations and standards by which these are oriented and judged.  They also need to reflect and reward use of good practice and innovation.  This does not require burdensome red tape, but the establishment of a level playing field and a long-term road map.
  • Financial processes that are competitive, transparent and logical.
    The costs and benefits of any retrofit need to be understood as do the incentives that may be available to the average homeowner.  These need to be as straightforward and user-friendly as other transactions and agreements that the consumer is familiar with.
  • Verification and certification that ensures compliant, completed work.
    In order that value for money, performance and life values can be transparently quantified and checked, there needs to be well-structured, logical and proportionate systems.
  • Communications that target all key stakeholders identifying the relevant core messages.
    A top-to-bottom re-think is required to identify the relevant core messages and target all key stakeholders. The aim must be to unite the market and inspire the end-users.

In October 2015 the Secretaries of State for DECC and DCLG commissioned Dr Peter Bonfield to chair an independent Review of consumer advice, protection, standards and enforcement for UK home energy efficiency and renewable energy measures.  This “Every Home Matters Review” covers the following issues: 

  • Consumer advice and protection: what supports consumers’ decisions ahead of an installation and what assistance is available when things go wrong?
  • Standards framework: what ensures that the right products are fitted to the right properties in the right way during the installation?
  • Monitoring and enforcement: what ensures that poor quality work is dealt with effectively, and do the arrangements for audit, compliance-checking and sanctions provide sufficient assurance of this?

The Review’s objective is to identify a plan of action covering the short, medium and long terms for the length of this parliament and suggesting principles beyond.  The CPA has been asked to lead one of the key workstreams – the insulation sector – and develop findings and consensus, whilst identifying subject areas for detailed consideration.  In support of this workstream, the CPA chaired an Insulation Work Stream Summit on 14 January which drew together dozens of representatives from across the sector.

As chair of the steering group, CPA Deputy Chief Executive Peter Caplehorn also sits on the implementation group, composed of officials and heads of all the work stream groups.  This group will refine the outputs from the work streams on delivery of the recommendations.  While work will progress on implementation, reports will be prepared to identify the key findings. These reports will form part of the main report, expected by the summer of 2016.  Further meetings of the implementation group will be held after the publication of the Review to manage the recommendations as they are progressed.  The CPA expects to support those recommendations.