The Environment and climate change

Climate change and global warming is a major threat to our environment. It is now generally accepted by the scientific community worldwide that emissions of greenhouse gases, largely from energy use, are changing the Earth's climate with potentially serious consequences. The problem is that burning coal, gas and oil for transport, in power stations and in our homes is causing an increase in the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere faster than it can be absorbed by plants and the oceans and this is expected to lead to a change in global climate. In this country, this could mean more extreme weather conditions, such as flooding and drought, with wide differences in regional climate. It could have significant effects on agriculture, water resources, human health, wildlife and the countryside.

More efficient use of energy in our homes would limit emissions of greenhouse gases and so help reduce the effects of climate change and global warming. Producing heating and hot water accounts for 84% of the energy used in the home, it therefore makes sense to use this energy as efficiently as possible. This can be achieved by making sure that the most efficient boiler is installed in your home such as a condensing boiler, and also that the most up to date controls are used with accurate time and temperature controls for both heating and hot water. Lofts, cavity walls and solid walls should be insulated where this is practical to do and the integration of renewable energy such as solar thermal, biomass, heat pumps and solar photo-voltaic should also be considered. Although renewable energy solutions may not appear to be cost effective, Government support initiatives such as Feed In Tariffs (FITs), the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the Green Deal will provide some financial support and funding mechanism.

It can be confusing deciding which is going to be the most cost effective and money saving home improvement and which one will reduce the greatest amount of carbon dioxide. A Green Home Energy Audit will provide the answers. A detailed survey of the home in accordance with the Government's Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) will enable a SAP home energy rating to be calculated and provide details of improvement options together with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The EPC report will indicate the benefits in reduced running costs and carbon dioxide emissions and the potential improvement in the rating.

A Green Home Energy Audit will also be required to gain access to the RHI and the Green Deal.

Peter Thom, Managing Director of Green Heat Ltd has pioneered the concept of home energy ratings and has lectured on this and other energy efficiency matters throughout the United Kingdom. He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturing; Member of the Chartered Institute of Management; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing; Associate of the Institution of Gas Engineers; Fellow and Past President of the Institute of Domestic Heating and Environmental Engineers (IDHEE). In addition to this, he is a Member of the Peterborough Environment City Trust and represents the IDHEE on the Government supported Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes and is Chairman of the Heating Strategy Group and a Member of the Heating & Hot Water Task Force.

Lobbying for change has always been the ethos of Peter Thom and Green Heat and this vision has resulted in much success. An idea in 1990 that it would make sense for every home to have an energy efficiency assessment and energy rating took a long time to blossom but we managed to get the SAP rating included into Part L of the Building Regulations in 1995. Since then it has become the major compliance tool for domestic properties. This was followed by European Legislation in the form of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive which has driven the requirement for homes to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when they are sold or rented. Following much more lobbying the EPC is now being integrated into Government schemes and is a requirement for the RHI and the Green Deal. As a result we are getting much closer to the vision that all homes and buildings will be rated for their energy efficiency. In 2009 we developed the website with the support of the heating, insulation, glazing and lighting industries to lobby for more to be done to improve the existing very inefficient housing stock. This initiative and website was launched in the Houses of Parliament to Lord Redesdale and the All Party Climate Change Group and called for better policy to help achieve the legally binding Climate Change targets. Much of this is now included within the 2011 Energy Bill including our suggestion that all privately rented homes should have a minimum energy rating and that a time limit is given when the improvements need to be made to allow these properties to continue to be rented. (Private rented properties are the least efficient of all UK tenures).

Further successes saw the introduction of the Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) in 1995 which required all Local Authorities to produce an Energy Audit and plan to improve the efficiency of all property types within their districts and boroughs. We are pleased that the decision to repeal this Act in the new Energy Bill has been withdrawn. Green Heat also pioneered the condensing boiler and lobbied for these to be a requirement in Building Regulations which eventually happened in 2005 (Read paper presented to IDHEE conference in 1997).

Links to other sites and reports:
The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP)
Probably The Best Energy Efficiency Blog in the world...
Seminars explaining the 2010 Building Regulations, Code for Sustainable Homes and SAP 2009
The web-portal for Domestic Energy Assessors and householders for the provision of Energy Performance Certificates
Improving the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock from "G" towards "A"

Don't Get Caught with Your SAP's Down
Vision Paper presented to Institute of Domestic Heating & Environmental Engineers (IDHEE) annual conference in 1997

Heating and Hot Water Pathways to 2020 and beyond
Report by the Heating and Hot Water Task Force presented to Government 2010

Heating & Hot Water Information Council
Institute of Domestic Heating and Environmental Engineers

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