Temperatures could soar to dangerously high levels in some homes insulated under the government's flagship Green Deal scheme, experts have warned. Energy-saving measures designed to save on winter fuel bills and protect the environment could pose a risk to health during summer heatwaves, they add. Homes in densely populated urban areas such as London are most at risk. The government says it is aware of the problem and is taking steps to prevent overheating in Green Deal properties.

Heat can build up during the day and has nowhere to escape at night leading to poor air quality and a greater risk of heat stress for the occupants which, in extreme cases, can kill. It is vital that homes in the UK are better insulated to help meet carbon emission targets and save on winter fuel bills. But the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the "big rush to insulate and make homes airtight", particularly as more extreme weather events, including heatwaves, are being predicted for the UK by meteorologists.

"Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand. It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big," he told the BBC News website. Very effective measures are being taken to protect against winter temperatures but by doing that they increase the risk of overheating during summer.

Research by Leicester De Montfort University, suggests top floor flats in 1960s tower blocks, and modern detached houses were most at risk, particularly if they were south facing. Heat was likely to have the biggest impact on elderly or infirm people who remained at home all day, the research suggests. The elderly are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating.

Under the Green Deal, householders take out loans to finance improvements such as double-glazing, loft insulation or more efficient boilers. The idea is that the energy savings they make should more than compensate for the repayments. In total it said there had been 38,259 Green Deal assessments, where customers are given initial advice about what energy improvements they might be eligible for. Of those, 241 households have confirmed they would like to proceed with work.

According to research by a group of leading engineering and climate change experts, published last year, "Green Deal measures could create new problems in the future, with inappropriately insulated properties experiencing poor indoor air quality and significant summer overheating. It said the increased likelihood of summer heatwaves could lead to rise in heat-related deaths from 2,000 to 5,000 per year by 2080 "if action was not taken".

The Department for Energy and Climate Change says it has now issued fresh guidance to Green Deal suppliers to help reduce potential risk from installing energy efficiency measures.

He said there were simple measures anyone could take - whether living in a well-insulated home or not - to keep heat levels down, such as keeping windows closed during the day to trap cool air and opening them at night. Fitting shutters to windows and painting exterior walls white - both common sights in Mediterranean countries - would also help, but were unlikely to be widely adopted in the UK due to the relative rarity of heatwaves.

Here is the link to the full BBC report.

10 ways the UK is ill-prepared for a heatwave

- Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

It's been a long time coming, but at the end of last week the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) finally announced the details for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, with the figures expected to provide a much needed boost to the UK's renewable energy industry.

The RHI will allow householders to be paid hundreds of pounds a year for any energy generated by renewable sources such as solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps. By persuading people to install and switch over to these methods, it is believed Britain will successfully be able to meet renewable targets and cut down the country's carbon footprint, as well as save householders money on energy bills.

The tariff levels have been set at:

  • 7.3p/kWh for air source heat pumps
  • 12.2p/kWh for biomass boilers
  • 18.8p/kWh for ground source heat pumps 
  • At least 19.2 p/kWh for solar thermal

Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: "The Coalition is committed to helping hardworking families with the cost of living. Investing for the long term in new renewable heat technologies will mean cleaner energy and cheaper bills. So this package of measures is a big step forward in our drive to get innovative renewable heating kit in our homes.

"Householders can now invest in a range of exciting heating technologies knowing how much the tariff will be for different renewable heat technologies and benefit from the clean green heat produced. We are also sending a clear signal to industry that the Coalition is 110% committed to boosting and sustaining growth in this sector"

The scheme will be made available to homeowners, private and social landlords, third party owners of heating systems, people who build their own homes and anyone who has installed a renewable heat system since 15th July 2009. It currently supports air to water heat pumps, biomass only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with back boilers, ground and water source heat pumps, flat plate and evacuated tube solar thermal panels.

Applicants must complete a Green Deal Assessment before submitting their application and ensure they have met minimum loft (250mm) and cavity wall insulation requirements, where appropriate. All installations and installers must be MCS certified (or certified by an equivalent scheme). MCS certified installers are currently required to be members of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code, which is backed by the Trading Standards Institute.

The DECC is currently finalising the details  of the expansion of the non-domestic RHI scheme and will confirm what comes next in Autumn alongside the outcome of the tariff review. The DECC's aim to introduce these changes from Spring 2014 onwards remains unchanged.

Full story/more information:

Heating, Ventilation & Plumbing Magazine

With the weather constantly on the up at the moment it seems like Britain may be able to enjoy a proper summer for once. However industry experts have warned that homes insulated under the Green Deal scheme could be facing dangerously high temperatures both over the coming months and future summer times. 

Prof Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, told the BBC that the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the “big rush to insulate and make homes airtight”. He cited homes in urban areas are most at risk from problems during summer heatwaves. 

"Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand," he said. "It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big."

"If you are in the wrong type of house, facing the wrong way, in the wrong street and you don’t deal with heat in the right way, it is a problem. Particularly for the elderly. They are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating."

His team's report suggested that with the increased likelihood of summer heatwaves in the future, there could be a rise in heat-related deaths from 2,000 to 5,000 per year by 2080 if action was not taken. To combat this, the DECC are now issuing fresh guidance to Green Deal suppliers to help reduce this risk while continuing to install energy efficient measures.

In a statement they said: "If energy efficiency measures are installed appropriately, overheating should not be a common problem and there’s guidance available for those involved in the Green Deal."

“The DECC is working with experts and other government departments to understand the potential risk of overheating in retrofitted homes and ensure that the energy efficiency supply chain, including those working within the Green Deal, are aware and guidance is provided on homes which are most likely to be vulnerable and what steps could be taken to minimise any risk of overheating."

Via Construction Enquirer

Following the mixed response to the first official Green Deal figures, renewable energy measures have taken another hit as the frequently delayed domestic Renewable Heat Incentive hits another snag.

Last week Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne released his Comprehensive Spending Review, which featured the new budget for the RHI in the 2015-16 period. The figure is £430 million, which is only £6 million more than the 2014-15 figure.

Neil Schofield, head of government and external affairs at Worchester, Bosch Group, has suggested that this will effectively kill the measure, which is still yet to be introduced properly. After a number of delays, its proper introduction is currently scheduled for Spring 2014.

He went on to say: "The Chancellor is sending a clear message that the future is not renewable energy. The constant delays to the introduction of domestic RHI have led many in the heating industry to believe that there is no real commitment from the Coalition Government towards domestic renewables. The new policy of starving domestic RHI of vital cash effectively sounds the death knell for the scheme."

The domestic RHI is a scheme set to offer home owners significant financial rewards for installing renewable heat technologies such as biomass boilers, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and more. These rewards come on top of the considerable fuel savings that come from switching over to renewable heat products.

Via Installer Online

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have released the first quarterly Green Deal statistics, which have been met to mixed response by leading industry professionals. These statistics show that almost 40,000 people so far have had an assessment carried out.

The key figures for up to the 16th June are:

  • 38,259 homes have had a Green Deal assessment
  • A rise in assessments every month: 7,491 in March, 9,522 in April, 12,146 in May
  • 241 customers have obtained a quote from a Green Deal Provider and have confirmed they wish to make energy efficient improvements to their home
  • Four customers have signed up to a Green Deal Plan and progress is being made to install energy efficient measures
  • 961 people have claimed cashback for a new boiler installation – 902 gas and 59 oil boilers
  • 1,254 installer organisations are accredited and qualified to work within the Green Deal.
Plumb Center's Head of Sustainability Tim Polland has praised these figures, remarking that "40,000 assessments is a significant marketplace and installers will know that represents more than a fad – I can’t imagine any installer not thinking it’s a good thing." He expressed optimism that the scheme would continue to grow past "those who are passionate about the scheme" and that stressed:"...the people at the heart of Green Deal knew it wasn’t going to produce a tsunami of demand at the start, it was going to be a scheme of longevity and the time to judge is at its end, not its beginning."

On the other side of the argument, HHIC (Heating & Hotwater Industry Council) Director Roger Webb considered the figures "very disappointing". He went on to say: "However, on a positive note, they will be a wake-up call for the government to simplify the scheme and to really engage with the small installer. It is not too late for the Green Deal as the scheme has hardly got off the ground and further action will be required to reform the scheme. The heating industry from the success of the cashback incentive want to stress that figures prove that changing a boiler is one of the key routes to gain consumer interest in the Green Deal and enabling further measures to be taken up."

Meanwhile, earlier last week it was revealed that a cross-section of industry leaders had written to all three main political parties in an attempt to persuade them to come together to ensure that the Green Deal doesn't fail. The letter was addressed to energy secretary Ed Davey (Liberal Democrat), minister Greg Barker (Conservative) and shadow energy minister Luciana Berger (Labour) can be viewed in its entirety below;

-----

We are taking the unusual step of writing the same letter to all three of the main political parties, setting out our major concerns with current retrofit policy and our belief that we can only address this most urgent of challenges with a greater degree of cross party consensus, and collaboration between government and industry.

Government’s own figures show that meeting our legally binding carbon targets requires a high level of retrofit across the UK’s 26 million domestic properties, at an average of one home per minute between now and 2050. Clearly this is a monumental task, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity: to reduce energy bills, improve health, provide jobs in the construction sector, and avoid additional costs of new generating capacity.

However, to have any chance of successfully tackling this, it will require government – either this one, or indeed any future one – to address the following major issues:

Green Deal interest rates: The current rate of interest for Green Deal finance is in danger of acting as a major disincentive to take up, as well as minimising the extent of the measures available in a Green Deal package. Taking inspiration from the effect of recent government intervention to support new build homes, government should explore, with stakeholders, what options are available to reduce risk associated with providing Green Deal finance – even if this means greater intervention in the market.

Long term structural incentives: Even if Green Deal was available at a much lower cost of finance, long term structural incentives would still be needed to ensure sufficient uptake. Council tax or stamp duty could be used to send a signal to consumers and the market on the direction of travel, and both could be applied in a fiscally neutral way to HMT. Regulation could also be used, in particular Consequential Improvements, which government itself has estimated would lead to an additional 2.2 million Green Deals being taken up.

Stakeholder engagement: There needs to be a better on-going dialogue between government and those trying to deliver the Green Deal on the ground, in order to overcome obstacles, reduce unnecessary complexity, identify future issues and learn lessons. At the very least this should take place through a high level industry advisory board co-chaired by a minister and a senior industry figure. It could also involve a more operational body, or ‘hub’, which government has previously expressed support for.

Long-term certainty and political consensus: There is an increasing sense that the Green Deal, and indeed energy bills more generally, are being used as a political football, which is not good for confidence in the market. These challenges will affect any party, or parties, of government and very bold decisions will be required. We believe there needs to be a new consensus forged between the main parties around retrofit, to depoliticise what is ultimately a long-term challenge that it is in the nation’s interest to successfully address.

Yours sincerely,

  • Paul King - Chief executive, UK Green Building Council
  • James Cameron - Chairman, Climate Change Capital
  • Mark Clare - Group chief executive of Barratt Developments Plc
  • John Frankiewicz - CEO, Willmott Dixon Capital Works
  • Peter Hindle - general delegate, UK, Ireland and South Africa, Saint Gobain
  • Ian Marchant - CEO, SSE Plc
  • Gene Murtagh - CEO, Kingspan Group Plc
  • John Sinfield - Chief Executive, Knauf Insulation
  • Russell Smith - Managing director, Parity Projects & acting chairman of RetrofitWorks
  • Nigel Taylor - Chief operating officer, Services, Carillion Plc
  • Peter Walls - CEO, Gentoo

NO! It’s not, is the simple answer.

The number of homes installing cavity wall insulation has crashed by 97% since the government's flagship energy–efficiency scheme was introduced, new figures have revealed. Previous energy-efficiency schemes meant cavity wall insulation – one of the cheapest ways of cutting energy bills and climate-warming carbon emissions, was heavily subsidised or free. But under the Green Deal, which aims to upgrade the efficiency of 14m homes, households have to take out a loan to pay for the measure.

Figures from the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, which monitors the issue of installations and guarantees, show that only 1,138 installations were completed in April 2013, down from 49,650 in April 2012. The government's own impact assessment predicted in January 2012 that cavity wall insulations would collapse by 67%, but the reality has far outstripped this estimate. Government data shows that 1.4m cavity wall insulations are needed to meet its carbon targets.

This crash shows a "desperate need for financial stimuli for the Green Deal".

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "The Green Deal is an ambitious, long-term programme designed to deliver home improvement in Great Britain on an unprecedented scale." He noted that a cashback scheme currently offers £250 for cavity wall insulation, although this will not cover the total cost. "Additional help for this type of work may also be available for people in hard to treat properties, and those on benefits or low income," he added.

Luciana Berger, the shadow minister for climate change, said: "This staggering collapse in the number of energy-efficiency installations is a disaster for our economy and a body blow for hundreds of small businesses across the country. This is all the more damaging when there are at least 5.8m homes in the UK that still need cavity wall insulation, according to the government's own estimates."

The government's impact assessment also predicted a drop of 93% in loft insulations, the most cost effective energy-efficiency measure of all!

- Mark Jenkins

New research from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has revealed that taking energy saving measures on your home (via the Green Deal or otherwise) could see a significant rise in its value.

The report took into account over 300,000 property sales in England between 1995 and 2011, making it the most comprehensive research in this area to date. The results found that on average house value could be increased by up to 14%, with that figure even reaching 38% in certain parts of the country.

For an average home in England, improving its EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) from band G to E, or from band D to B, could mean adding more than £16,000 to the sale price of the property. In the North East, improved energy efficiency from band G to E could increase this value by over £25,000 and the average home in the North West could see £23,000 added to its value.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “We have long known the benefits of making energy saving improvements to the home, but this study is real evidence of the huge potential rewards. Not only can energy efficient improvements help protect you against rising energy prices, but they can also add real value to your property. This Coalition is committed to helping hardworking families with the cost of living. The Green Deal is designed to do exactly that.

“The Green Deal is helping more people make these types of home improvements, reducing high upfront costs and letting people pay for some the cost through the savings on their bills. The Green Deal is a great option for anyone wanting to improve the look, feel and potentially the value of their home.”

If you're reading this as an installer, it illustrates yet another reason why so many people are turning toward renewable energy sources - especially while the Green Deal is assisting in the cost. Training in renewable energy methods is the perfect way of expanding your business as well as getting the satisfaction that you are doing your part to help decrease Britain's carbon footprint. If you would like to find out more about what renewable energy training is available to you, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492.

Full story: Installeronline

The Government are now offering a total of £19 million of funding towards coming up with new methods of energy efficiency and reducing the country's carbon footprint. And if you're an entrepreneur with some new and innovative ideas in mind, they're offering a share of that money to you!

This funding is the second phase of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, which since autumn 2012 has allocated £16 million toward the introduction of new products in the renewables sector. Previous examples have included energy/heat storage, tidal turbine testing, a thermally-insulating window and the "Eco power shower".

Energy secretary Edward Davey has said: "We’re on the side of innovative businesses and individuals with drive, passion, ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. This funding will get ideas off the ground and into the market, create new green jobs, and help the UK get ahead in the innovation global race.

"An ambitious and driven small business sector can steer the economic recovery in the right direction. So I want to see Britain’s brightest and best SMEs sending in their applications."

The scheme will be seeking the best ideas from both the public and private sectors, aiming to assist small and medium business enterprises. Subject to the demand and quality of applications, the DECC expects to open Calls for projects every four to six months from June 2013 until the full funding has been allocated. During the application process, applicants will be expected to demonstrate a robust evidence based case for funding, that will include but not be limited to:

 

  • the potential impact of the innovation on 2020 and/or 2050 low carbon targets or security of supply
  • the technical viability of their innovation and coherent development plan that will commercially progress the innovation; value for money
  • the size and nature of the business opportunity.
The deadline for the first call for applications is the 12th July. Interested applicants will need to register their contact details HERE before the 5th July.

 

With more and more news concerning the Green Deal emerging every day, we thought it would be a good idea to provide a glossary of some of the terms and acronyms that pop up regularly in these articles.

Combined Heat & Power (CHP): Energy generation where both heat and power is collected for use, providing a much more efficient use of resources.

Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG): The UK Government department responsible for community and local Government affairs. Their roles include overseeing policy areas related to planning and building.

Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC): The main Government body responsible for the Green Deal. They are responsible for reducing climate change by managing the country's energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Display Energy Certificate (DEC): A certificate displaying the energy usage of a building. By law, these much be on display in all public buildings across England and Wales.

Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA):  Person accredited by an EPBD Accreditation Scheme to produce an Energy Performance Certificate for domestic properties in England and Wales.

Energy Act 2011: The bill of Parliament that originally set up the framework for the Green Deal scheme.

Energy Company Obligation (ECO): A measure to ensure energy companies pay greater focus on improving energy-efficiency in lower income and vulnerable homes by providing funding. These dwellings inparticularly have not benefitted from similar measures in the past.

Feed-in Tariff (FIT): A government incentive scheme offering payments to households producing their own electricity. This could be various renewable methods, including solar panels and wind turbines. 

Green Deal Assessor Organisation (GDAO):  The organisation that manages the delivery of Green Deal assessments by qualified advisors, taking responsibility for meeting the requirements of the Green Deal Code of Practice and all related standards.

Green Deal Advisor (GDA):  An energy assessor who is qualified to undertake Green Deal assessments, if working for a Green Deal Assessor Organisation.

Green Deal Advisory Report (GDAR):  The report issued by an advisor that provides the outputs from the Green Deal assessment.

Green Deal Installer (GDI): Fully authorised installers that are able to install energy efficient improvements using the Green Deal finance mechanism and mark of approval.

Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS): A scheme developed by the DECC to ensure products meet a certain standard in cutting down Britain's carbon footprint.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI): The Government's financial incentive relating to renewable heating methods. This includes heat pumps, solar thermal, biofuels and energy from waste.

Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP):  A Government incentive scheme that helps householders to buy renewable heating technologies such as solar thermal panels, heat pumps and biomass boilers.

The Green Deal is in danger of “sleepwalking into obscurity”, warns the ECA.

In response to the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report into the Green Deal, the ECA has said that the findings should be a stark warning for the Government.

The ECA said, “The Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report into the Green Deal issued on 22nd May is a wake-up call to Government, which must keep on top of Green Deal performance if it is to prevent its flagship policy from sleepwalking into obscurity.”

Now the Green Deal is live, the Government must be quick to react to what is happening on the ground, and make changes if success is in doubt. Considering the PV FITs fiasco was worsened by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) relying on outdated figures on solar installations, the DECC should be accessing real-time information on the Green Deal, right now.

Millions of homes and businesses could benefit from the Green Deal, but at the current rate of assessments it will take around 100 years to get round to them. The first figures on actual Green Deal installation work, which come out in June, will be crucial.

Depending on what these figures say, the DECC may need to be ready with a Plan B. That should include reducing interest rates, which are widely seen as uncompetitive. Even simple measures like making the early adopter loans more obvious to consumers could help.

Awareness of the Green Deal financial incentives is very sketchy; publicity of what people need to do to benefit from the scheme is non-existent. How can the ‘common man’ (or woman) take advantage of the scheme when they are not being provided with any information?

The government call this a "Flagship incentive" - I would call it propaganda.

- Mark Jenkins

Following draft license modifications put before Parliament and a ruling from the Court of Appeal, solar PV systems will be eligible for the higher Feed in Tariff (FIT) rate.  That means that domestic solar PV systems that are registered with a FIT provider before 3rd March 2012 will be eligible for a Feed in Tariff rate of 43.4/kWh. 

Not prepared to accept the change, the DECC (Department of Energy & Climate Change) has indicated they will follow this ruling up by seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.  If the DECC is successful in the appeal process, this could herald yet more changes.

The current rates available to domestic solar PV customers are as follows:

  • If customers register their solar PV installation before 3rd March 2012, they will be eligible for a FIT rate of 43.3p for each unit of power they generate and 3.1p for each unit of power that they export to the National Grid
  • Customers registering from the 3rd March – 31st March will be eligible for a FIT tariff of 43.3p for every unit of power they generate up until the 1st April 2012. Any power generated after that date will be eligible for a rate of 21p for each unit.
  • Between 1st April and 30th June, the Government proposes to give 21p for each unit of power generated and 3.1p for each unit that is sent back to the National Grid.


There’s never been a better time to consider solar PV for the home and you may indeed have seen more and more homes with solar panels fitted.  In order to have solar PV panels fitted, your home will need to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard and that means you’ll have to acquire an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘D’ or higher.   Further reductions are proposed to the FIT rate in the future and these changes could be in place by 1st July 2012. 

More and more people in the UK are starting to realise the benefits of generating their own energy and the changes to the FIT rate make installation look much more appealing.  Solar PV panels are becoming less and less expensive and therefore more accessible to UK homeowners.  In order to be eligible for solar PV you must own your own property in England or Wales and have your own mains electricity supply.

Renewable and sustainable energy seems to be high on the agenda in Parliament right now and there’s never been a better or more affordable time to tap into the sustainable energy market.  Reduce your carbon footprint and your energy bills at the same time.

With the rising demand for solar comes a rise in the number of solar installers required in the UK. Access Training specialise in helping people find their vocation, whether that's plastering or solar PV. To find out more about how to begin training, browse the rest of the website or call the knowledgable Access team on 0800 345 7492.

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