Sunday, August 03, 2008

EPCs - a step in the right direction

Reading my Observer today, I came across an article on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), which as many of you will be aware, will need to be provided by landlords to prospective new tenants after 1 October.

The article however is more than a bit on the negative side, pointing out that landlords have no compulsion to carry out any of the recommendations set out in the EPCs, and that older properties will appear in a bad light not withstanding the fact that landlords may have done all they can. It also claimed that the EPCs could cause friction if tenants found that their bills bore no relation to the examples in the EPC, although one source seemed to think that that most people would not take any notice of them (or no one would ever rent a thatched cottage).

All of this may well be true, but surely the point of EPCs is that it will force people at least momentarily to think about energy efficiency, and will make landlords and tenants aware of what can be done to reduce usage. Surely that has to be a good thing?

We keep reading about how we are going to have to take huge steps to reduce our carbon footprint, but whenever any practical steps are attempted to actually do something about it, this barrage of negativity is put up. EPCs are a waste of time. Low energy light bulbs are not bright enough to see by. Wind turbines are noisy and spoil the view. The Severn Barrage will adversely affect migratory birds and fish. This sort of attitude is not really helpful, bearing in mind the amount of carbon reduction we are going to have to do to have any chance of affecting climate change.

I think that EPCs are an excellent idea. In order to do something about a problem you need information to help you make the correct decision, and this is precisely where the EPCs can help. It is not a perfect solution of course (nothing ever is), but it is a start. Some landlords will probably ignore them, as will some tenants, but I expect many others will take notice of them, and will carry out at least some of the recommendations. That has got to be good.

It is all very well people talking about new buildings and eco towns, but most of us live in older properties, which were built in times when energy efficiency was not a priority. We need to adapt our homes to meet the new situation, and many of us have no idea how to do this. Mandatory EPCs to be provided whenever properties are sold and rented out is at least a start.

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