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Green endeavours

Green endeavours
New Year offers the chance for new resolve and alongside the perennial favourites of increasing exercise and vegetables whilst reducing alcohol and crisps, 2023 has seen a surge in commitment to green endeavours. The drive has been given new impetus by the pendulum swing that means not only can people help save the planet by going green, they can also save serious cash. So recycling more rubbish, donating or re-selling clothes and other unwanted household items rather than dumping them, insulating homes and switching to solar and ground source energy makes increasing sense. But in one important area the Government is lagging behind and it’s now time for them to come to the party. Recent legislation means any property put up for sale in the UK is now required by law to have an Energy Performance Certificate. An EPC gives an official rating to your homes energy efficiency, with A being the most efficient and G the lowest. The impact on house prices is now being felt, with one survey by estate agents Rightmove suggesting C-rated homes sell for 16% more than similar builds with a lower rating. From 2025 all new accommodation offered for rent must have a rating of C or above with 2028 the deadline for existing tenancies. However, various groups have now identified a flaw in the way that EPC ratings are calculated. Despite the government setting a net zero carbon emissions target for 2050, EPC’s can actually penalise homeowners who make the switch from fossil fuels. That’s because EPC ratings, unlike most other areas of public policy, have not been aligned with nation’s zero-carbon aim. They remain based simply on what it costs to heat a home regardless of the carbon emissions generated. Heat pumps – which transfer thermal energy into a property from the ground or air – produce far less CO2 than burning gas but are not necessarily recorded as being cheaper to run as the price of electricity can vary in comparison with fossil fuels. So there is the ludicrous scenario where, due to current fluctuations in the international markets, homes using oil, gas and coal could receive a better EPC rating that those using low or zero carbon technologies, depending on when the survey is carried out. Following industry pressure, the Government says it is now aware of the anomaly and will look again at how EPCs are calculated to ensure a property’s carbon emissions are taken into account when calculating its energy performance and homeowners who reduce those emissions are rewarded. It’s an important step as replacing domestic gas boilers is seen as the number one way in which the nation can cut its carbon emissions and government and other available grants means the cost of installing low carbon ground or air source heat pumps is now comparable with gas boilers.

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