Better mortgages could be offered to energy efficient homebuyers

Homebuyers across the EU could be offered better borrowing rates on mortgages in return for purchasing more energy efficient homes or committing to implement energy saving work within properties as part of a “ground-breaking” new project.

The European Energy Efficiency Mortgage initiative is aiming to create a standardised “energy efficient mortgage” based on preferential interest rates for energy efficient homes or additional funds for retrofitting homes at the time of purchase.

The scheme has been cited as the first ever collaboration between groups of major banks, mortgage lenders, businesses and organisations from the building and energy industries for the purpose of addressing the concept of energy efficient mortgages, with the project having been launched by a consortium led by the European Mortgage Federation (EMF) and the European Covered Bond Council (ECBC).

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) claims that creating a private bank financing mechanism to encourage improvements in the energy efficiency of households is a key means of helping the EU to meet its energy saving target of 20 per cent by 2020 and to deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement reached at COP21 last December.

Read the full article in Energyzine

Comment: This seems a great idea, which could be adopted in the UK. Perhaps it could be incorporated into the Bonfield Review or be one of the announcements by the new Department for
Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – when it finally decides what it will do to improve home energy efficiency in the home – thus revitalising a new version of the Green Deal initiative.

This is a great “carrot” for those selling and buying at house. And finally, will make the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating worth something that can be promoted by Estate Agencies,

Research finds that SuperHomes use 40% less energy

Detailed research into the energy use of SuperHomes reveals that, on average, they are using 40% less energy per square metre per year than the average UK home. SuperHomes are, therefore, much cheaper to run than their unrefurbished neighbours.

Chester SuperHome
Chester SuperHome. Whilst bills are similar to the owner’s previous home, that home was half the size!

The most energy efficient home in the study, whilst offering improved comfort, uses a staggering 86% less energy than the average home.

One of the participants in this research, Simon Brown, is no stranger to the benefits of retrofit. He says “After the first year, we were pleasantly surprised to find our total gas and electricity bill was slightly less than in our previous home, which was half the size.”

So, whilst low-carbon and low-energy don’t necessarily go hand in hand, this study confirms that SuperHomes excel in both respects.

The research report shows that an average SuperHome:

  • Is over 40% more energy-efficient than the average UK home in its energy use per square metre per year.
  • Consumes about 19% less total energy than the average UK home each year, despite having a larger than average floor area and a higher than average occupancy, and being older than an average house building.
  • Uses 104kWh of energy per square metre per year, compared with a national average of 177kWh/m2/yr.
  • Consumes a total of 14,722kWh of energy per annum, compared with an average household consumption of 18,100kWh.
  • Achieves an incredible average reduction of 72% in carbon emissions, based on comparisons between pre- and post-retrofit emissions

The most energy-efficient SuperHome in the survey (refurbished to the exacting Passivhaus standard) was found to use just 25kWh/m2/yr, an impressive 86% less than the national average.

Gabby Mallett, Director of SuperHomes and Households and Communities at the National Energy Foundation, commented:

“Many people assume that a low-carbon home is also a low-energy one. However, this is not necessarily the case … it’s fantastic to discover that many SuperHomes have not only gone much further than a 60% carbon reduction, but they’ve achieved great results on energy too.”

SuperHomes are older homes refurbished by their owners to deliver a carbon saving of at least 60%. The owners host free open days in September to share the benefits and the challenges of home refurbishment.

Researchers at the National Energy Foundation (NEF) calculated the energy and carbon figures for a representative sample of the existing 205 SuperHomes, by per person per year, and by per square metre of floor space per year. Using the 2012 National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework (NEED) sample, NEF was able to make comparisons between an average SuperHome and the average UK home with the same number of occupants or of the same size.

Read the Energy Efficiency Benchmarks for SuperHomes Report

Orison – pre-launch their plug and play battery Storage

US company Orison have pre-launched their plug and play battery storage – that is due to be shipped globally to pre-paid customers from August 2016 through Kickstarter

Orison

Orison will automatically store energy when utility rates are low, and then use that energy to power your home or business when rates are high. During a power outage, it will automatically power a home or business and make sure none of your stored energy is sent back to the grid. By localizing your energy distribution, you save money and reduce peak demand on the grid.

In the UK his may not be particularly useful at present unless Economy & is used – but over the next few years “Time of Use” incentives are likely to come along with the roll out of smart metering.

Orison utility rates

However, for those that have solar PV already installed, Orison provides  a way to store the solar energy you produce so you can use it whenever you need it.

Orison diagram

The storage devices come as plug and play – in the form of an elegant panel that fits to a wall and

orison panel

in a lamp-stand shape tower.

orison lamp

The likely retail prices are for an 2.2 kWh tower $5580 and $9750 for 11 kWh. A panel will be $4900 for a 8.8 kWh system with expansion panels added to it for an additional cost. It will be shipped globally for an additional cost

More details

SellingUp/Populus survey – reveals that poor energy efficiency ratings does reduce price of UK house sales

A SellingUp/Populus survey done in October 2015 has revealed that poor energy efficiency ratings is property deal breaker that could ruin a sale.

EPC image

contract break

the survey suggests property buyers are a greener bunch than realised – or perhaps it is simply the fear of rising energy bills. Whatever the reason, more than one in three (36%) said a poor energy efficiency score would lead them to cut off thousands of pounds from their offer price. A further 23% would reduce their offer by a few hundred pounds and 16% would pull the plug on a purchase entirely.

populus_survey_summary7

Read the full article.

Why does a real person come to read my Smart Meter?

A few days ago, I was surprised to get a visit a home from a meter reader, who had come to read my gas and electricity smart meters. Both meters had been replaced on behalf my utility company – Ovo Energy last March 2015 – with smart meters that take readings every 30 minutes!!

So why does a real person have to come to read my smart meters?

smart meter

After some investigation with the very helpful Ovo Energy Customer Service Team, I have now discovered why. After all it would seem pointless installing expensive smart meters and then employ someone to visit the house to take the meter reading. Ultimately, I as the consumer would be paying more. And the current UK government – energy efficiency policy – appears to be focused on encouraging the Utility companies to charge consumers less.

It appears that under current legislation, utility companies as part of their licence conditions to operate have an obligation to supply energy have to:-

  • check for evidence of deterioration that might affect the safety or proper functioning of the meter,
  • check for evidence of tampering or theft, and
  • take a physical meter reading to ensure accurate customer bills.

Ofgem produced a consultation paper and invited comments during a consultation period which closed in September 2015. Their position was:-

“that health and safety obligations in legislation and industry codes, and recently enhanced theft detection and billing accuracy supply licence obligations, are more effective and proportionate ways to achieve the desired policy objectives of meter inspections. We expected repealing the licence conditions would improve competition in the retail energy market. We also thought that repeal would have the greatest potential to enable cost savings from smart meters.”

Ofgem’s preferred option is to:-

“repeal the meter inspection supply licence conditions. This is because we think other regulations and policies, including safety obligations and recently enhanced theft detection and billing accuracy obligations offer more effective and proportionate protections for consumer interests.”

The full Ofgem original Consultation paper can be found here and the final consultation paper here.

These modifications would come into effect on 1 April 2016, subject to appeals made within 56 days from the date Ofgem publish the decision notices.

So home consumers with Smart Meters will no longer get a visit from a Utility Meter Reader – and perhaps bills might go done a bit?

Peter Bates

PS The Meter Reader that came out did not know how to read the Smart Electric Meter!! So how easy is this for consumers? Ovo Energy then sent me the details of which button to press to read the data collected. It turns out that this is quite comprehensive. It’s a pity their current display readers , don’t show all this information! However, Ovo Energy admit they are not as good as they expected and there are plans to upgrade these devices.