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Poor Energy Efficiency Ratings Could Lose Housesellers Thousands

News by HPM Magazine www.hpmmag.com

This New Year housesellers are being urged to make sure their property is energy efficient before it goes on the market, or risk losing thousands.

Figures from a recent survey conducted by SellingUp.com suggest a home’s energy efficiency rating could be a deal-breaker, with over half of potential purchasers saying they would drop their offer if the rating was poor. One in three said an inefficient property would lead them to reduce their offer by thousands and 16% said they would pull out completely.

Peter Thom, managing director of Green Heat, said: “With every home now requiring an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), buyers can see whether a property needs improvements.

“This will influence their offer. Poorly insulated homes are costly, to run and to the environment, but these latest figures are also an important reminder to homeowners that an inefficient property will have an impact on resale value.”

Ahead of putting a property on the market, an EPC will make recommendations for cost-effective improvements to help cut fuel bills and carbon dioxide (CO²) emissions.

“By following the recommendations in an EPC, an average of £300 a year can be saved on fuel bills.”

With a quarter of heat lost through the roof of an uninsulated home; loft, attic or roof insulation is a simple and effective way to keep heat in and reduce fuel bills.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that annual savings of up to £240 and 990 kg of CO² can be achieved by installing loft insulation, while cavity wall insulation can save up to £275 and 1,100 kg of CO² with less than a five-year payback and a 25-year (CIGA) guarantee.

“Boilers account for 55% of your annual fuel bill, so an efficient boiler is key to keeping bills down,” added Peter. ‘A’-rated condensing boilers are over 90% efficient and some older boilers are as low as 55% efficient. By replacing an old ‘G’-rated boiler with a new ‘A’-rated condensing boiler and heating controls, carbon emissions can be cut by 1,500 kg a year and fuel bills by around £340.

A recent project undertaken by Green Heat to increase the efficiency of a home in Cambridge saw improvements to the property’s insulation result in savings of more than 60%.

Installing a high efficiency ‘A’-rated gas condensing combination boiler, together with double-glazing and insulation to the loft, walls and below the ground floors have reduced the predicted energy costs for heating, hot water and lighting from £1,502 to £610 per year. The home’s annual CO2 emissions were originally seven tonnes; these have now been cut to just 2.5 tonnes per year.

Before any work was done, the property had a SAP* (Standard Assessment Procedure) score of 45, Band ‘E’. Now the energy performance of the home has risen dramatically to a SAP rating of 77, Band ‘C’, which will reflect strongly in its resale value.

“The UK still has some of the oldest and most inefficient housing in Europe, with people wasting energy and paying much higher fuel bills than necessary,” said Peter. “Our houses also account for 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions, which contributes to climate change. With around 26 million homes, this is a significant cost to the environment.

“The SellingUp survey demonstrates that energy efficiency is now a priority consideration in the house-buying process alongside location and size. This is a positive step forward that should drive the momentum for more green schemes to help people make their homes energy efficient. By making simple improvements recommended by an EPC, homeowners will avoid wasting energy and enjoy a warmer home that is significantly cheaper to run, while also safeguarding their resale value.”

Green Heat founder calls for tougher commitment to improve UK’s energy efficiency

Peter Thom is concerned that start-stop energy policies are keeping more people in fuel poverty

Peter Thom, managing director of Cambridge-based energy efficiency company Green Heat Ltd, fears more householders will be left out in the cold following Chancellor George Osborne’s announcements in yesterday’s Autumn Spending Review.

As part of a host of green policy measures, the Chancellor announced the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme – which enables energy companies to fund energy efficiency improvements for households in fuel poverty –will be replaced with a "cheaper domestic energy efficiency scheme" intended to save 24 million households an average of £30 a year on their energy bills. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme is also to be reformed.

“Following Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd’s much anticipated ‘Energy Reset’ speech, George Osborne’s announcements do little to inspire confidence that our targets to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty will be achieved,” said Peter Thom.

“Plans to deliver measures to improve the energy efficiency of one million homes by the end of this Parliament is all well and good, but this is a marked reduction in the number of households that received support during the last Parliament, leaving millions of people still struggling to pay unnecessarily high energy bills in an attempt to heat inefficient homes.

“I would welcome any consistent policy on energy supply and energy efficiency, but despite promises to prioritise affordable energy as part of ‘rebuilding Britain’, there is still no clear-cut commitment from Government that sets out a workable course of action.

“We know that gas is by far the cleanest fossil fuel and is connected to a very high percentage of homes and businesses in the UK. Significant carbon and cost reductions can be made by replacing older boilers and heating controls with the latest high efficiency ‘A’ rated boilers and smart controls, achieving system efficiencies close to 100%. Consistent policy will help persuade people to do this.

“With a reduction in overall funding for energy efficiency schemes and no mention of the Green Deal, I can only assume – as I suspected – it will not be replaced, so I’m very keen to understand how householders will be helped to achieve these targets.”

Peter’s frustrations with the now defunct Green Deal have been well-documented; “Since it was scrapped, we’ve actually been able to get on with the work we do - providing SAP ratings, EPCs and other related energy assessments - without being sidetracked by Government meddling and start-stop policy making.

“I was one of the scheme’s greatest supporters and tried very hard to make it work, but despite regularly raising our concerns with Government so improvements could be made, misleading qualification criteria and changing certification requirements continued to leave consumers frustrated and installers out of pocket. Less than 2% of all installers bothered gaining accreditation as a Green Deal Installer and over 20% of those who did left the scheme early as it was unworkable. The reality was the scheme diverted smaller installers like us away from delivering the improvements our customers want - and can benefit from.

“We have had too much stop/start inconsistent policy from Government which just confuses consumers and frustrates businesses. There are some important lessons to be learned from previous initiatives. We would urge any change of course takes into consideration the particular needs of smaller businesses, enabling them to fully engage with meeting the challenges of energy demands and carbon emission reduction.

“With the recent closure of so many green schemes leading to significant job losses, I think installation companies should look on the next one that comes along with caution. My advice is: participation in a Government scheme may seriously damage your wealth and your business.”

Celebrating a double anniversary

This year marks both a Silver and a Diamond anniversary for Peter Thom, MD of Cambridgeshire-based Green Heat, a firm that specialises in energy efficiency consultancy and installation. PHAM News spoke with Peter to find out about the contributions he’s made to the industry.

This year marks a double anniversary for Peter Thom, who in 2015 is celebrating the personal achievement of 50 years in the industry as well as 25 years at the helm of his business, Green Heat. There may be no shortage of installers who can look back on five decades of service within heating and plumbing, but there are few who can also lay claim to having played a material role in the development of energy efficiency policy in the UK.
When Peter began his career 1965 as an apprentice with Eastern Gas, the most common efficiency measures were draught proofing and insulating cylinders, so it would have been hard to predict that his career would see him become a leading figure on the front line of putting energy efficiency high on the political agenda. By the 1970s, when the oil crisis made energy conservation a necessity, Peter got involved with the Institute of Domestic Heating and Environmental Engineers (IDHEE), an organisation that was ahead of its time in focusing on the link between home heating and the environment. Peter would later become a two-time President of the IDHEE and now sits on the Board of Directors.
“When I got my qualification with the IDHEE, the emphasis was firmly on calculating and demonstrating the results of your work,” explains Peter. “I was taught that if you can measure something, you can manage it and improve it.”

Peter Thom with his John Cheshire Green Business Award for his outstanding contribution to energy efficiency in the UK

Energy ratings

This scientific approach saw Peter’s career eventually move to the business of promoting energy efficiency to clients and the Government. When he founded Green Heat in 1990, the original aim was to provide home energy ratings to domestic customers, however the scope broadened out to include consultancy for housing associations, building societies and commercial establishments. Having worked for a number of years previously helping to develop the Starpoint rating system, a precursor to SAP, Peter brought a wealth of knowledge to his new enterprise.
“We pioneered and developed home energy ratings and lobbied to get these into Building Regulations,” explains Peter. “We succeeded in 1995, when SAP ratings were first required by Part L. Since then, SAP ratings have been woven into all energy saving legislation and government schemes.”

Condensing technology

The second objective of Green Heat was to promote the use of condensing technology, long before it became a requirement. However, in the early days of Green Heat, Peter found that while it was easy to recommend condensing boilers, it was nearly impossible to find an installer conversant with this technology. This hole in the market meant Green Heat would open its doors to installation work as well.
“In 1990 we were one of only a very few heating companies promoting and installing this technology,” says Peter. “In 1997 I made several radical predictions in a paper given at the IDHEE annual conference, one being that only condensing boilers should be available within the following 10 years and that open flue appliances should be phased out. This was met by a lot of opposition, but again we demonstrated the benefits and lobbied Government to enforce this through regulation. The result was that condensing boilers were eventually made a requirement in the 2005 Building Regulations.”
Another major achievement Peter can point to is his role in getting the boiler scrappage scheme enacted in 2010. In the aftermath of the successful car scrappage scheme, he joined a heating taskforce which lobbied for a simple and accessible programme that would enable consumers to replace their ‘G’ rated boilers with modern, efficient condensing models.

Scrappage success

“Boiler scrappage was the most successful scheme the industry has ever seen,” Peter insists. “Government allocated £50m for the initiative, and the money went very quickly. One of the reasons it was so successful was because it was simple, it didn’t confuse the public. But another important reason was that it was open to small installation businesses as well as the big ones. As long as they were Gas Safe registered, they could have a piece of the action.”
In sum, around 120,000 ‘G’ rated boilers were displaced with ‘A’ rated boilers under the scrappage scheme, which by any measure made a significant dent in the country’s carbon output. So when the Green Deal was launched in 2013, Peter had high hopes that this new scheme would enjoy similar success, both with householders and small installation companies. Because the aims of the Green Deal married up nicely with those of Green Heat, Peter went to considerable expense and trouble to get his company accredited.
“The original Green Deal plan had all the hallmarks of a good scheme,” says Peter. “The pay-as-you-save aspect was set at 0% interest on the loan taken out to do the improvements, and it was going to be open to all Gas Safe registered installers, regardless of the size of their company. Left this way, it should have worked, but Government ended up making it so bureaucratic that nobody could really understand it.”

Green Deal

Over the next few years, Peter fought hard to bring some common sense to how the Green Deal was run. In 2014 he achieved a small victory when he convinced the Government to amend the Green Deal home improvement fund after he made a FOI request that revealed British Gas was securing more than 95% of the Green Deal cashback vouchers. His efforts were rewarded when the scheme was opened up to smaller installers, and it was hoped a new era had dawned.
Despite this achievement, the Green Deal continued to disappoint, and in January of this year Peter penned a strongly worded letter to David Cameron decrying the programme for excessive red tape and pandering to interest groups that stood to profit from it. He publicly declared his intention to ‘uncouple’ from the Green Deal, just months before the Government decided to scrap it altogether.
Considering that much of the work done at Green Heat is providing SAP ratings, EPCs and other related energy assessments, you might think that the death of the Green Deal would have dealt a blow to Peter’s business, but he doesn’t see it this way.
“We will do better because we won’t be sidetracked by government meddling and start-stop policy making; we can just get on with the work we do. With the recent closure of so many green schemes, I think installation companies should look on the next one that comes along with suspicion. My advice is: participation in a government scheme may seriously damage your wealth and your business.”

What’s next

Looking to the next 25 years, Peter and his son Robin, who is Director of Sustainability, will look to carry on their mission to make more homes energy efficient and sustainable.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, still lots of inefficient homes out there,” says Peter. “We want to develop our architect and developer clients, showing them how to achieve compliance in a cost effective and environmentally friendly way. We know we’re doing good, we’ve won lots of accolades and awards for our work, and hope that will continue.”

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Energy efficiency makeover saves couple over 60% in fuel costs

Project demonstrates how Green Deal Home Improvement Fund was working

A Cambridge couple who carried out a total overhaul of their home’s heating system to make sure it was completely safe and ran efficiently have seen their fuel bills reduce by more than 60%.

At the time the work was carried out, the Government’s Green Deal was still available, providing the opportunity for grant assistance to help fund some of the improvement measures.

Before moving into their 1929 semi-detached house in Cambridge last year, Nick Horrocks and his partner Sarah Hortonasked Peter Thom, managing director of Green Heat Ltd, to carry out an energy efficiency assessment to look at the potential to reduce its energy usage and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Before any work was done, Nick and Sarah’s property had a SAP* (Standard Assessment Procedure) score of 45, Band ‘E’, with predicted energy costs for heating, hot water and lighting of £1,502 per year and CO2 emissions of 7 tonnes per year.
 
After the improvements were made, the energy performance of their home has risen dramatically to a SAP rating of 77, Band ‘C’, with predicted energy costs for heating, hot water and lighting of just £610 per year and CO2 emissions of 2.5 tonnes per year.
 
With savings of £892 in energy and 4.5 tonnes of CO2 per year, Nick and Sarah have reduced their overall predicted energy costs and carbon emissions by more than 60%.

Nick explained how this great saving was made: “The house was built of solid brick and had very poor insulation with single glazed windows. It also had an old gas boiler, which was extremely inefficient.”

On completion of the Green Deal survey, Peter Thom recommended a number of improvements.

“We replaced the single-glazed windows with double-glazed units and insulated the walls, loft and below the ground floors,” said Nick.“Green Heat also replaced our old ‘D’-rated boiler with a new, high efficiency ‘A’-rated gas condensing combination boiler with flue gas heat recovery1. This heats up our hot water supply much quicker and uses significantly less energy.

“The new zoned heating controls with thermostatic radiator valves also mean we can control the temperature room by room, so we’re not heating whole sections of the house when we’re not using them.”

Nick and Sarah have also installed a wood-burning stove and were advised that they could make further savings by fitting insulated external doors and solar PV panels to generate electricity.

“Peter’s assessment was extremely thorough,” said Nick. “He gave us really helpful advice and recommendations on a wide range of measures to make sure our home was heated safely and energy efficient. He also guided us through the grant assistance we could be entitled to.”

The boiler replacement and flue gas heat recovery system qualified for a Green Deal Home Improvement grant and further funding helped towards the cost of the Green Deal survey and the solid wall insulation.

“This project is a great example of how the Green Deal enabled some people to make significant improvements to their home’s warmth and efficiency, while importantly cutting costs and carbon emissions,” said Peter.

“Unfortunately, as the scheme’s qualification criteria changed and became more confusing, many more homeownerswere left baffled, disillusioned and out of pocket.So it is no surprise the scheme was scrapped. Installers too have been let down - we’re now seeing a number of installer businesses fail as a result of investing huge training and certification costs in committing to the Green Deal.

“We still havesome of the oldest and least energy-efficient properties in Europe, with people wasting energy and paying much higher fuel bills than necessary. It’s essential that the good intentions of the Green Deal to improve the energy efficiency of UK homes are not lost. A robust, workable alternative is needed to enable more people to live in warm homes that don’t cost the earth. We cannot afford to leave the Green Deal behind. Clarity and accessibility is key to the success of any replacement and the heating industry is well-placed to offer the advice and guidance needed to make new policies work.”

For further information and advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of your home or business, contact Green Heat Ltd on: 01223 277278 or visit: www.greenheat.uk.com

Green Heat Anniversary

Cambridge energy efficiency specialist celebrates double anniversary of saving the environment


Pictures show: L: Peter Thom and L-R: Robin Thom, Kelly Butler, Peter Thom and Ernie Spencer

 

Cambridge-based energy efficiency specialists, Green Heat Ltd and its founder,Peter Thom, celebrated a double anniversary recently at a special reception held at Girton College, Cambridge.

2015 is a momentous year for both Peter and Green Heat; marking Peter’s 50th year in the heating industry and Green Heat’s 25th anniversary.

From his beginnings as an apprentice with Eastern Gas in 1965, Peter Thom has witnessed, campaigned for and successfully instigated some major changes in the world of energy-saving. He has been at the forefront of many of the industry’s own milestones which have themselves helped to shape significant developments in energy conservation for the future.


Congratulating Peter for his achievements and contribution to the industry, BEAMA’s marketing director, Kelly Butler, said: “Peter has been a flag-bearer for energy efficiency from day one. He campaigned long and hard for a change to Building Regulations and made sure it stayed on the table when progress looked doubtful. He is also a flag-bearer for small businesses and has been a powerful voice for installers, ensuring their views are heard and their interests protected.

“We know what makes a good, inspirational business and Green Heat is one. Peter works with true altruism and his tireless campaigning has been a great influence and instrumental in some major changes in UK energy efficiency.”

Ernie Spencer, secretary of the Essex Building Surveyors Association, added praise for Peter’s dedication: “The benefits Peter has given us from his training have been superb. He gives up so much of his own time outside running his business to help Local Authority Building Control and their customers provide warm, energy efficient homes for residents. His advice, guidance and training have been invaluable for more than 20 years.”

Since Green Heat was established by Peter 25 years ago with the aim of making more homes energy efficient and bringingaffordable warmth to more people, the company has helpedto make substantial reductions to householdfuel bills. Over the past two and half decades Green Heat has trained over 65,000 people in energy efficiency, assessed and surveyed nearly 100,000 dwellings and buildings and helped its clients to save over 750 million Kg of carbon dioxide (CO2).

A dedicated environmentalist, Peter has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of energy efficiency in the domestic market. Over an impressive 50 years in the industry, hehas been instrumental in getting climate change and energy efficiency not only on the political agenda, but at the top of it.

One of his key objectives in setting up Green Heat was to develop and introduce a methodology to measure and rate the energy efficiency of homes. Peter explains: “Back in 1990 energy efficiency was only concerned with draught proofing windows and insulating cylinders, with no recognition of efficient heating. But if you can measure something, you can manage it and set targets for improvement.


“We pioneered and developed home energy ratings and lobbied to get these into Building Regulations. We succeeded in 1995, when SAP Ratings were first required by Part L of the Building Regulations. Since then, SAP ratings have been woven into all energy saving legislation and Government schemes.
 
“Our second mission was to encourage the wider use of high efficiency condensing boilers and better heating and hot water controls. In 1990 we were one of only a very few heating companies promoting and installing this technology.

“In 1997 I made several radical predictions in a paper given at the Institute of Domestic Heating and Environmental Engineers (IDHEE) annual conference; one being that only condensing boilers should be available within the following 10 years and that open flue appliances should be phased out.

“This was met by a lot of opposition, but again we demonstrated the benefits and lobbied Government to enforce this through regulation. The result was that condensing boilers were eventually made a requirement in the 2005 Building Regulations.”

To prepare installers for this new requirement, Peter developed the Heating Installer Energy Efficiency Course and trained over 400 trainers who then delivered this training to over 65,000 heating installers.

These major developments in energy efficiency are now recognised as the two most significant changes to have been made to Building Regulations.

With condensing boilers now established as a standard requirement in Building Regulations, in 2009 Peter came up with the idea of introducing a Boiler Scrappage Scheme - loosely modelled on the Government's Car Scrappage Scheme – as another aid to cutting carbon emissions and saving on energy bills.

After lobbying ministers, civil servants and colleagues, the initial £50m scheme was launched, enabling householders to apply for vouchers from the Energy Saving Trust to replace their lowest ‘G’ rating boiler with an ‘A’-rated energy efficient model, or to install a renewable heating system.


The scheme was heralded a great success in environmental change, not only in reducing emissions and helping people cut down on their fuel bills, but also in helping to sustain work for the 130,000 installers and around 25 UK-based boiler manufacturers throughout the economic recovery.

Few can match Peter’s commitment, focus and drive to make energy efficient homesa reality for all.

“Green Heat was specifically established to help more people understand energy efficiency and the benefits it brings to them, as well as future generations in protecting our planet,” explained Peter.

“Changing a long established mind-set is a challenge within any industry, but with many years’ working ‘on the front line’ and then teaming up with those who have the expertise to investigate and prove better alternatives, we’ve been able to demonstrate the significant benefits to Government and homeowners.”

Peter continues to drive this change. Training plays a vital role and through Green Heat, he works hard to help the supply chain understand the process of SAP ratings and how they can be used to sell energy efficiency through regular training sessions.

“Providing training is so important to widen the base of professional understanding throughout the industry,”said Peter. “This putsenergy efficiency front of mind in business decision-making.”

Peter believes that there is still too much red tape and industry jargon preventing people improving their home’s efficiency. “There are so many products, services and solutions that promise to save us money and be kinder to the environment, that it’s baffling to a lot of people. The sheer volume of information is also causing many to question these offers. This confusion and mistrust leads to inaction, with the result that the UK has some of the most inefficient housing in Europe. People are wasting energy and paying much higher fuel bills than necessary.

“We provide a truly unbiased service and suggest the most suitable solutions for each individual home. This includes budget costs, estimated payback and return on capital and environmental impact.”

Green Heat is now one of the country's leading energy efficiency companies. The contribution the company and Peter have made to the industry over five decades has been recognised year on year in an abundance of accolades.

In 2010 Peter was the inaugural winner of the John Cheshire Green Business Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the improvement of energy efficiency in the UK over the previous two years.

Green Heat has also been awarded H&V News’ Domestic Heating Installer of the Yearin two separate years for helping homeowners by providing efficient and well-controlled heating and hot water systems.

In 2009 Green Heat won both the CORGI Green Installer of the Year and the Gas Industry Energy Efficiency Award and is currently shortlisted for the East of England Business Champions Green Award. The company has also recently been accredited as a Which? Trusted Trader.

“This celebration is about thanking everyone for helping us achieve the progress we’ve made in enabling more people to live in warm homes that don’t cost the earth to run,” said Peter. “It’s vital that the momentum continues to ensure energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions remain a priority for the protection of future generations and the environment.”

Green Heat’s director of sustainability, Robin Thom concluded: “We have already helped our customers save over 750 million Kg of carbon dioxide over the last 25 years; I want to see that figure reach a billion.”

“Looking back, there has been definite progress,” added Peter. “There’s a much better awareness of energy efficiency today – among both public and political audiences – and more effective measures in place. However, there’s still a way to go and challenges ahead which need to be met head on to make efficient, affordable warm homes a reality for more people.

“Over the next few years we hope to really push the fight against fuel poverty and raise the profile of water efficiency, both here in the UK and as a global issue facing the next generation.”

For further information, please visit: www.greenheat.uk.com

-ENDS-
Date of issue: 13thOctober 2015
Issued on behalf of Green Heat Ltd. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Jane Duncan on: 07814 033384 or email jduncan@ntlworld.com
 

An Open Letter to The Prime Minister

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA
 
28th January 2015

Dear Prime Minister,
The Green Deal

It is with regret that I have to inform you that my company, Green Heat Ltd, will uncouple from the Green Deal as a Green Deal Heating Installer today, the second anniversary of the launch of this flagship initiative.

I have been one of the greatest supporters of this scheme and we have tried very hard to make it work over the past two years. I have raised my concerns at the Green Deal Forums, which I was invited to be a member of as a small heating installer, but this Green Deal field is still being ploughed when it is full of boulders.

There appears to be a reluctance to make any real changes to the scheme that would enable small companies like mine to engage viably and economically.

The original scheme was going to be open to all Gas-Safe registered installers without the need for the added costs of PAS2030 for management systems, additional accreditation, inspections and surveillance. This was agreed with industry, as we are already highly regulated with a requirement to undertake costly training and examination every five years to maintain gas accreditation.

In addition to this, we are able to self-certify boiler installations for Building Regulation compliance as agreed with DCLG following the successful Energy Efficiency training and accreditation of over 70,000 heating installers. We also provide a Benchmark logbook with every boiler installation. This is signed by the installer and the customer, confirming that the installation complies with all the relevant standards and regulations. (The same standards and regulations required by PAS2030).

The Green Deal Oversight and Registration Body (GD ORB) was then set up on behalf of the Secretary of State at a cost of over £5 million. A meeting took place with all the accreditation bodies and it was decided that Gas-Safe accreditation was not sufficient and all installers had to follow PAS2030, together with all the costs and bureaucracy that go with it. This is a bit like turkeys voting against Christmas!

Green Heat Ltd has been providing Green Home Energy surveys and installing condensing boilers for 25 years. This is also my 50th year in the industry and together we have a proven track record in helping our customers make huge savings on energy consumption. We have a natural affinity with the Green Deal, so we invested in an online management system for PAS2030 compliance and applied for accreditation.

This involved an inspection of our online management system, which I was advised had to be printed off for the inspector. The inspection took a whole day and included a visit to see a boiler installation. The cost to my business, including lost revenue, was £1500 which cannot be passed onto my customers.

We are now advised that this has to be repeated annually and because of the lack of activity in the Green Deal until the GD Home Improvement Fund was launched, we are due for an inspection in February and again in March this year. This is a considerable additional cost burden on the company and cannot be justified. We have challenged the accreditation body concerned whose only response is that they have to do it - presumably to tick a box!

The initial slow take-up of the Green Deal has been well documented and we soon realised that we could not get access to the initial £270 boiler grants for our customers. However, we knew that British Gas were.

This prompted me to make a Freedom of Information Act request. This also had to go to appeal to reveal the information, which confirmed that British Gas had in fact secured over 11,000 boiler sales supported by these grants using taxpayer’s money.

Your DECC then agreed to change the scheme and the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund was launched on 9th June 2014. Although this was open to small installers and included a £1000 grant for new mains gas boilers, consumers could only qualify for the grant providing a second measure was installed, such as a flue gas heat recovery unit (FGHR). Many did not require a second measure, leaving them 'unhelped'.

On 22nd July DECC decided to remove FGHR from the scheme; the scheme then abruptly ended two days later. Although we managed to secure some funding for our customers, we also had to deal with large numbers of disgruntled clients who felt they had been misled by your Government.

Following a consultation period with Industry, the second phase of the GDHIF was launched on 10th December and closed the day after for solid wall insulation. This left just £6 million available for other measures for the whole of England and Wales.

Sadly, the input into the consultation from industry appears to have been ignored. With Flue Gas Heat Recovery being removed from the scheme and LPG and oil boilers still not included, the help for consumers seems to have been stripped away. With fuel poverty still a major problem in this country - particularly among those dependent on fuel not supplied from the mains gas network - these moves are failing to deliver the support to those the scheme set out to help. More and more people are being left disappointed, disillusioned, out of pocket and ultimately, let down.

The result is that even the GDHIF has become unworkable. It creates more phone calls of complaints from the public about how the scheme is unhelpful and misleading.

I would also like to bring to your attention to how the Green Deal Communities Fund is also working against and letting down small Green Deal Installers and Assessors by distorting the market. We have worked very closely with all the Cambridgeshire Councils over many years on climate change and energy efficiency issues and were highly delighted when they were awarded £7million of the Green Deal Communities Fund last March.

However we are really disappointed with the harsh reality of this, as although there is supposed to be a commitment to use installers and assessors from within the county, this is not the case. We have recently been advised that over £133,000 of Green Deal assessments have been undertaken on this scheme locally, heavily subsidised by taxpayers’ money and using assessors from outside the county.

This not only distorts the market, but also undermines many local businesses who have made substantial investment in training and accreditation for these schemes and are not getting any return. I am not sure where this leaves your localism?

I do not want the good reputation of my company to be tarnished anymore by the failures of the Green Deal. This, coupled with the frustration of not being able to provide the help and improvements customers believe they will be funded for, is why we have decided to uncouple from today.

I do hope that you will give careful consideration to my concerns and enable the required changes to be made to improve the scheme. Removing all the red tape and added costs so small installers can engage with the Green Deal fully, without any additional cost or time burden, is key to making this work - for everyone.

Then and only then, will the true value of the Green Deal be realised by those who should benefit from it most, the customer and of course, the environment.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

 
 
 
Peter Thom FRSA; FIDHEE; FCIM; MCMI; AIGEM
Managing Director
 

Celebrating 25 Years of Saving the Environment


Peter Thom, founder and managing director of Cambridge-based Green Heat Ltd.

It isn’t often that a Silver and Diamond Anniversary are celebrated in the same year, but for Cambridge-based energy efficiency specialists,Green Heat Ltd and founder,Peter Thom, 2015 will mark a momentous double milestone in the heating industry.

From his beginnings as an apprentice with Eastern Gas in 1965, Peter Thom has since witnessed, campaigned for and successfully instigated somemajor changes in the world of energy-saving. He has been at the forefront of many of the industry’sown milestoneswhich have themselves helped to shape significant developments in energy conservation for the future.

Since Green Heat was established by Peter 25 years ago with the aim of making more homes energy efficient and bringingaffordable warmth to more people, the company has helpedto make substantial reductions to householdfuel bills. Over the past two and half decades Green Heat has trained over 65,000 people in energy efficiency, assessed and surveyed nearly 100,000 dwellings and buildings and helped its clients to save over 680,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) – that’s the equivalent of 3.6 million double decker buses, or enough to fill over half a million hot air balloons measuring 10m wide.

A dedicated environmentalist, Peter has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of energy efficiency in the domestic market. Over an impressive 50 years in the industry, hehas been instrumental in getting climate change and energy efficiency not only on the political agenda, but at the top of it.

One of his key objectives in setting up Green Heat was to develop and introduce a methodology to measure and rate the energy efficiency of homes. Peter explains: “Back in 1990 energy efficiency was only concerned with draught proofing windows and insulating cylinders, with no recognition of efficient heating. But if you can measure something, you can manage it and set targets for improvement.

“We pioneered and developed home energy ratings and lobbied to get these into Building Regulations. We succeeded in 1995, when SAP Ratings were first required by Part L of the Building Regulations. Since then, SAP ratings have been woven into all energy saving legislation and Government schemes.
 
“Our second mission was to encourage the wider use of high efficiency condensing boilers and better heating and hot water controls. In 1990 we were one of only a very few heating companies promoting and installing this technology. In 1997 I made several radical predictions in a paper given at the Institute of Domestic Heating and Environmental Engineers (IDHEE) annual conference; one being that only condensing boilers should be available within the following 10 years and that open flue appliances should be phased out.

“This was met by a lot of opposition, but again we demonstrated the benefits and lobbied Government to enforce this through regulation. The result was that condensing boilers were eventually made a requirement in the 2005 Building Regulations.”

To prepare installers for this new requirement, Peter developed the Heating Installer Energy Efficiency Course and trained over 400 trainers who then delivered this training to over 65,000 heating installers.

These major developments in energy efficiency are now recognised as the two most significant changes to have been made to Building Regulations.

With condensing boilers now established as a standard requirement in Building Regulations, in 2009 Peter came up with the idea of introducing a Boiler Scrappage Scheme - loosely modelled on the Government's Car Scrappage Scheme – as another aid to cutting carbon emissions and saving on energy bills.

After lobbying ministers, civil servants and colleagues, the initial £50m scheme was launched, enabling householders to apply for vouchers from the Energy Saving Trust to replace their lowest ‘G’ rating boiler with an ‘A’-rated energy efficient model, or to install a renewable heating system.

The scheme was heralded a great success in environmental change, not only in reducing emissions and helping people cut down on their fuel bills, but also in helping to sustain work for the 130,000 installers and around 25 UK-based boiler manufacturers throughout the economic recovery.

Few can match Peter’s commitment, focus and drive to make energy efficient homesa reality for all.

“I suppose you could say I’ve been on a mission, but a mission that I believe is possible,” explained Peter. “Green Heat was specifically established to help more people understand energy efficiency and the benefits it brings to them as well as future generations in protecting our planet.

“Changing a long established mind-set is a challenge within any industry, but with many years’ working ‘on the front line’ and then teaming up with those who have the expertise to investigate and prove better alternatives, we’ve been able to demonstrate the significant benefits to Government and homeowners.”

Peter continues to drive this change. Training plays a vital role and through Green Heat, he works hard to help the supply chain understand the process of SAP ratings and how they can be used to sell energy efficiency through regular training sessions.

“Providing training is so important to widen the base of professional understanding throughout the industry,”said Peter. “This putsenergy efficiency front of mind in business decision-making.”

Peter’s latest victory isto persuade the Government to amend its new Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. “I’m a great supporter of the Green Deal, but was concerned that the small installer businesses were losing out to the big energy suppliers. So I made anFOI request. This revealed British Gas was securing more than 95 per cent of the Government’s cash back vouchers for boiler installations, leaving small installers out in the cold,” said Peter. “The scheme has now been opened up to smaller businesses and is much fairer and easier for the public to understand.”

Peter believes that there is still too much red tape and industry jargon preventing people improving their home’s efficiency. “There are so many products, services and solutions that promise to save us money and be kinder to the environment, that it’s baffling to a lot of people. The sheer volume of information is also causing many to question these offers. This confusion and mistrust leads to inaction, with the result that the UK has some of the most inefficient housing in Europe. People are wasting energy and paying much higher fuel bills than necessary,” He explained.

“We provide a truly unbiased service and suggest the most suitable solutions for each individual home. This includes budget costs, estimated payback and return on capital and environmental impact.”

Green Heat is now one of the country's leading energy efficiency companies. The contribution the company and Peter have made to the industry over five decades has been recognised year on year in an abundance of accolades.

In 2010 Peter was the inaugural winner of the John Cheshire Green Business Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the improvement of energy efficiency in the UK over the previous two years.

Green Heat has also been awarded H&V News’ Domestic Heating Installer of the Year two years running for helping homeowners with cost effective solutions to provide efficient and well-controlled heating and hot water systems. In 2009 Green Heat won both the CORGI Green Installer of the Year and the Gas Industry Energy Efficiency Award.

Peter continues to hold several prominent positions in the industry. Hehas been elected as President of the Institute of Domestic Heating and Environmental Engineers (IDHEE) for two separate terms and is currently Director. He has also been Chairman of the Government-backed Heating Strategy Group of the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Buildings (EEPB) for over 12 years.

As a board member of the Heating & Hot Water Industry Council(HHIC), Peter recently joined HHIC colleagues to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the compulsory condensing boiler with a special Parliamentary Reception in the House of Lords.

“Looking back, there has been definite progress,” added Peter. “There’s a much better awareness of energy efficiency today – among both public and political audiences – and more effective measures in place. However, there’s still a way to go and challenges ahead which need to be met head on to bring more efficient, affordable warmth to more homes.

“Over the next few years we hope to really push the fight against fuel poverty and raise the profile of water efficiency, both here in the UK and as a global issue facing the next generation.”

Shortlisted for the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Award 2014

Green Heat Ltd have been shortlisted for the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Award 2014.

David and Goliath win for small energy firms

In a “David and Goliath-style battle” a Girton energy proprietor has helped open up the market for smaller businesses in the energy efficiency sector.

The Government agreed to amend its new Green Deal home improvement fund - set up to enable homeowners to make their houses more energy efficient - after Peter Thom submitted a FOI request which revealed British Gas were securing more than 95 per cent of the Government’s Green Deal cash back vouchers, leaving small installers out in the cold.

Ministers announced a bold new package of measures on May 1, known as the Green Deal home improvement fund, in a bid to revive the widely criticised Green Deal, launched in January last year.

The new fund will offer £1,000 for people installing boilers and insulation, and £500 for anyone who installs energy efficiency measures within 12 months of moving into a property.

"Peter Thom of local Heating and Energy Efficiency company Green Heat Ltd, in Girton, highlighted to Government that the Green Deal was supporting the big 6 energy suppliers and leaving small installers out in the cold. Picture: David Johnson"

Mr Thom, managing director of heating and energy efficiency company Green Heat Ltd in Girton, says the scheme is also now much fairer.

He said: “The scheme has now been opened up to small installers, it’s a bit of a David and Goliath thing.

“Consumers can now go to their local trusted accredited Green Deal installer and get useful advice and a decent chunk of money.

“Since the beginning of the Green Deal we said to David Cameron and his ministers make the scheme open to small businesses, but in reality all the schemes they set up helped the big energy companies.”

Mr Thom also believes the Green Deal home improvement fund has removed some of the red tape and made the complicated process slightly easier for consumers.

He added: “I wrote to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and asked how many Green Deal vouchers had been issued and which Green Deal provider had issued them, particularly for boilers.

“They wrote back to me saying they couldn’t tell me. In August last year I found out British Gas were securing 95 per cent of the cash back vouchers.

“The DECC then agreed to hold a mini consultation and later agreed to change the scheme.

“This is great news for small installers and householders and it is pleasing that the Government has at long last listened to our concerns and acted in such a positive way.”

From June 1, residents will be able to get up to £7,600 back through the new Green Deal home improvement fund.

The scheme helps people to install energy efficiency measures such as solid wall insulation and new heating systems by providing them with money back on the contributions they make towards improvements.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “Faulty boilers, draughty windows and insufficient insulation all cause properties to leak hundreds of pounds every year. But advice and support through the Green Deal can help put a stop to this.

“By installing energy saving improvements, families across the country can enjoy the benefits of warmer, more energy efficient homes and lower bills.”

Girton company Green Heat Ltd have won numerous awards for their environmental work and are regarded as experts in saving energy and reducing fuel bills.

Government makes positive response following Freedom of Information Request

Peter Thom of Heating and Energy Efficiency company Green Heat Ltd highlighted to Government that the Green Deal was supporting the big 6 energy suppliers and leaving small installers out in the cold.

Following a FOI request that confirmed that British Gas were securing over 95% of Green Deal cash back vouchers, the Government agreed to amend the scheme. Attached is a copy of today’s press release from the Department of Energy & Climate Change detailing the changes which come into effect on the 1st June 2014.

There is £120million available this financial year for householders to improve the energy efficiency of their homes with grants of up to £7600 in the new Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, but unlike the old scheme, householders can deal direct with their trusted local accredited Green Deal Installer and do not have to get tied up in the red tape and added costs of the energy suppliers or Green Deal Providers.

A valid Energy Performance Certificate or Green Deal Report will be required and two of the 12 listed improvements will have to be completed.

Eg: Installing a new mains gas condensing boiler with flue heat recovery will provide a grant of £1000 with an added £500 if the property has been bought within the last 12 months. Yes, that’s £1500 off of a replacement boiler.

Peter Thom, Managing Director of Girton based Green Heat Ltd said “This is great news for small installers and householders and it is pleasing that Government has at long last listened to our concerns and acted in such a positive way.”

For further information contact Peter Thom on 01223 277278 or mobile 07850 277278

Notes to Editors:

Peter Thom has worked in the industry for nearly 50 years and is MD of Girton based Energy Efficiency Company Green Heat Ltd,
and have won numerous awards for their environmental work.
Green Heat are accredited Green Deal Assessors and Green Deal Installers and provide Energy Performance Certificates and Green Deal Reports
And are highly regarded as leading experts in saving energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and fuel bills and making homes more comfortable.

The Simple Life

What does being ‘eco-friendly’ mean when it comes to your own home? From upcycled furniture to energy-saving measures, we cut through the confusion and reveal how easy it is to be a little more planet-conscious from the comfort of your armchair. Download the PDF and Read the full story here.

Green Deal has too much red tape

Will the Green Deal help to generate work for small installation businesses? Peter Thom, founder of Green Heat and member of the IDHEE Executive Council, argues that the amount of unnecessary bureaucracy means only big national companies are likely to benefit. Here he tells PHAM News why he has become disillusioned with the Government backed energy saving scheme.

The Green Deal is now up and running, but you’re unhappy with the way the scheme has been set up. Why’s that?
“Basically, there’s far too much red tape and unnecessary and expensive inspection regimes which means that only a small number of installation companies are likely to want to have anything to do with it. Initially, and it was on the DECC website, if you were Gas Safe registered you were deemed to comply with PAS2030 (the accreditation installers need in order to participate in the scheme). But now that’s changed.”

Do you know why that decision was made?
“I’m told that the certification bodies voted for it, but of course they would, wouldn’t they? It’s in their interest. If you want to get installers involved with this then you’ve got to go with the systems that are already in place. The changes have all been about money, there’s no other possible justification.
“The Government has broken its promises to support small businesses. I had a meeting with Energy Minister Greg Barker, about 14 months ago now, on this very issue about small businesses having a role to play in the Green Deal. He gave his assurance then, and has many times since, that they really want small businesses to engage with this, but the reality is quite different.”

So what’s involved if an installer wants to become a Green Deal advisor?
“To be an advisor you have to get a qualification, and it’s a three day course which costs around £1500. You then have to complete a portfolio, and the learning hours to complete this course is set under National Occupational Standards at 280 hours. Which is seven weeks. If you then add the cost of lost revenue to a business you’re probably looking at around £12,000, plus the cost of the course.
“But once you’ve done all that, met all the standards and got your certificate, you can’t go on any lists to tell anyone that you’re a Green Deal advisor. That’s because you then have to be employed by a Green Deal assessor organisation. They’ve put another level of bureaucracy in! You can’t be an independent advisor, which I think is outrageous.
“So I’m now accredited to be a Green Deal advisor, but I can’t market my services as an individual. The rules don’t allow it. I have tried to get DECC to simplify it for the poor old public, because I think the consumer is going to be totally confused.”

What’s to stop a Green Deal advisor also setting themselves up as an assessor organisation?
“We could be an assessor as well, but it’s another layer of red tape and we would probably have to employ two people in an office just to move the paper around. The way the management systems have been set up is that it is a paper chase. It either means you’ve got to devote a lot of time to it or employ more administration staff to do the extra work, and not many small businesses are in a position to do that.”

Green Deal advisors are meant to be impartial when they provide homeowners with a survey. Can you see that working?
“If I went in to a property with my Green Deal advisor, charging the homeowner £150, I might offer to give that customer £150 back if they buy a boiler from me. But if I say that, I’ve broken the rules. It’s going to be impossible to police.
“There are people out there doing free surveys, because it’s a free and open market, but if you’ve spent £13,500 to get your accreditation then you can’t do it for free. It’s not a level playing field. Unless you’re a big organisation, you can’t offer it for nothing. And the only reason an installer is going to offer advice for free is if they’re going to get some business out of it. So either way you cut it, it’s not going to be impartial.”

You say that the cost of inspections are too high for the installer, but what sort of cost are we talking about?
“The Green Deal accreditation bodies want to come out and inspect every single measure that you’re going to want to get accredited for and charge you for the privilege of doing it. So, let’s say that I want to get accredited for gas boilers, then I decide that I want to get accredited for oil boilers. They’ve got to come out and see an oil boiler job. The same with heating controls and flue gas heat recovery – even if the flue gas heat recovery device is built into the boiler. They’ve still got to see it, even if there’s nothing to look at!
“There are currently 45 approved measures in the Green Deal and all of these have to be inspected by the certification bodies who generally charge about £300 per half day inspection; multiply this by the number of measures and lost revenue during these inspections and you’re talking about serious money, which small businesses just don’t have.”

As well as the number and cost of inspections, would you also argue that PAS2030 is an unnecessary obstacle for installers?
“All PAS2030 does is pull together the British Standards, the Codes of Practices and the Building Regulations that we in the heating industry already work to. There is nothing new in PAS2030 at all.
“We’re already an over regulated industry, but I suppose the challenge is to find a system that suits lots of different trades, including the insulation and glass and glazing sectors. There are some civil servants who view the Green Deal as a whole house makeover and individual industries are seen as just part of the whole. We don’t see it that way, because very few people do a whole house makeover. Most homeowners will just want to pay for those jobs that need to be done.
“PAS2030 is being re-written and you’ll be able to download the document, which runs to about 200 pages, for £75. PAS is a publicly available standard, but I’m told that anyone who wants to be accredited under the Green Deal will need to purchase a copy of this from BSI so that they can demonstrate compliance. That’s what we’re up against. It’s a gravy train.”

How optimistic are you that the Green Deal will work in terms of incentivising consumers to invest in energy efficiency measures?
“There are bits of the Green Deal that can be made to work, but I think less than 15% of properties will take it up – and that’s a much smaller market than the Government is hoping for.”

Do you think that the launch of the cashback will be more attractive to homeowners than taking out a Green Deal loan?
“Yes, because once you start talking about 7% interest rates, it’s expensive money. That said, if your boiler has packed up, and you’re sitting there shivering, and you’ve got no money in the bank to pay for it, the Green Deal could represent the only option. But I would suggest that if people have got money to pay for these measures in the bank, there’s no reason to be tied down to a loan on the property.”

You might be disillusioned, but will you still look to participate in the Green Deal?
“Well, I think we’re just going to have to bite the bullet. At Green Heat we’ve been in business for 23 years and all the work we do is about assessments and energy efficient heating installations. The Green Deal is the Government’s plan ‘A’ and there’s no plan ‘B’. So we’ve got to be in it.
“We’re very pro Green Deal. We’re not against it, but we’re highlighting the bits where it needs to be improved, because we really want to make it work. As it stands, the amount of carbon created by all the bits of paper that we’re moving about, together with all the people driving around the country inspecting installations, will probably negate any carbon savings that could be achieved.”

Top Tips to Find a Good Heating Installer

  1. Have a clear brief for the work you want done
  2. Try and obtain three detailed quotes before starting work
  3. Ask friends and family for a personal recommendation.
  4. Also check that the company is registered with Trading Standards “Buy with Confidence” scheme
  5. Make sure that the company has appropriate insurance
  6. Ensure they are qualified and members of a trade or professional body such as Gas-Safe and The Institute of Domestic Heating & Environmental Engineers
  7. Always take up references and speak to previous customers and see if they have won any awards for their work
  8. Don't just go with the cheaper option of paying with cash, rather than a properly invoiced job that may include VAT (see John Ruskin’s advice on prices)
  9. Only pay for work that has been done and not by advance payments.
  10. Always use a written contract as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong.
  11. Agree in writing any changes to the work or agreed contract value.

 

Green Heat Ltd. Obtain Trading Standard Buy With Confidence Standard

Green Heat Ltd based in Girton has just been awarded membership to the new ‘Buy With Confidence’ approved trader scheme operated by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service.

‘Buy with Confidence’ was launched by Trading Standards to help consumers find traders that they can trust, and to support and promote good business in Cambridgeshire.

Peter Thom from Green Heat said “The process for joining the scheme was straight forward. It involved an in-depth inspection by Trading Standards which looked at how we trade, how we deal with customers, what our internal processes were and how robust they were. Our members of staff that carry out work in customers’ homes were CRB checked, giving our customers that extra piece of mind. References were also taken by Trading Standards from five randomly selected customers to gauge satisfaction with our work. We were pleased to pass with flying colours. Being a member of Buy with Confidence shows our business has been vetted and found to be a reliable local trader who deals with customers fairly.”

Green Heat Ltd are specialist Heating Engineers and Energy Efficiency Experts and have been providing impartial advice and solutions to home owners for the past 22 years helping to make substantial savings to peoples fuel bills and reductions of over half a million Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide.

Peter Thom said “ Although we are Gas-safe registered and members of a professional heating body householders are still confused over where to go for good impartial advice and how to get a good heating engineer to install a correctly sized energy efficient boiler. This is why we are delighted to be part of the County Councils Trading Standards Buy with Confidence scheme as it reassures our clients old and new that we are a proper organisation with processes and substance, and that we do a thorough and proper job for them. This really stops the cowboys in their tracks and I suggest consumers only use organisations that have been recognised and are proper companies as vetted by the Trading Standards Office.”
“With so many choices in the market place, especially with the internet now, it is far too easy for a consumer to get into difficulties with a potentially dishonest trader. This scheme stops that happening and protects them from a potentially costly mistake. My other advice is also not to buy from those irritating people who try to sell to you over the phone or knocking at your door – only use trusted registered traders to help you Buy With Confidence”

Further information is on our newly updated website www.greenheat.uk.com
Or by phone: 01223 277278

The Buy With Confidence website can be found at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk

Call +44 (0)1223 277278


Green Heat Ltd.
27 Fairway, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0QF


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