Each Home Counts, the long-awaited review of the consumer experience of energy efficiency and renewable energy by Dr Peter Bonfield, was published before Christmas. It offers plenty of food for thought for everyone involved in delivering green measures for householders.
The trade taking on more accountability is a key theme, with the report emphasising that quality should not be lost in the quest for quantity – and that’s certainly something we agree with.
Only those firms whose work actively reduces fuel poverty and carbon emissions will survive in the long-term. To incentivise high standards, a voluntary ‘license to operate’ is recommended – something that can be revoked in the case of sub-standard work.
Poor quality jobs are highlighted in the report, though it does emphasise that these are a minority. It’s fair to say that some poor jobs and disappointed customers is still too many, if at times, there is not quite enough acknowledgement that the insulation sector is not the only one to have endured teething problems with the quality of workmanship.
It can’t be forgotten, too, that accountability is a two-way street. The Government must find ways to generate the market, as installers must deliver quality work when that market is there.
To tackle the quality issues detailed, a recognised mark, consumer charter and code of conduct are recommended, while its also suggested that installers should have to prove their relevant training. Whatever form it takes, we firmly believe that any certification required following the review should be affordable to all market entrants, small and large.
Better information for both installers and customers is also called for, backed up by tapping the benefits of digital technology. Improved technical monitoring, an information hub and a data warehouse, open to both those doing the work and those standing to benefit from it, are also put forward.
The necessity of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) is rightly pointed out as a unique chance to engage with consumers. With 65% of English homes still standing to benefit from energy efficiency measures, the opportunity is huge, if it’s done right – and that goes for both sides; installers and Government.
The fact that designers are singled out as a key part of the home energy efficiency process is welcome, too. Our Superglass Solutions team work with those putting together even the most complex specifications – and it’s the small details that can make a lot of difference in delivering the quality jobs that the report stresses need to be the norm.
There are other interesting points of note, the stand out probably being a hint that Ofgem could look at ways of compensating consumers for poor practice. But right now, the review commits the Government to nothing, so the next few months will be crucial as we see just what recommendations will implemented.
The industry is in the process of giving some practical feedback to the findings – and we’ll keep you posted on what happens next. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the report and its implications, don’t hesitate to get in touch.