Using a home energy survey to evaluate if your home is losing energy and perhaps emitting CO2 will not only be beneficial to the environment, but will help run your home more efficiently saving you money in the process. What is a home survey and how can it help?
No More CO2!
The UK government has introduced new compulsory measures to reduce the CO2 emissions from homes and businesses in England and Wales through an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) which is issued is issued following a satisfactory energy efficiency survey.
However in Europe anyone can apply for one at a cost; some US States offering a free home energy survey.
At present homes and buildings are responsible for nearly half of all CO2 emissions in the UK. They hope to reduce this figure by improving the energy efficiency through the home energy survey. This is carried out by a qualified energy engineer who assesses all the uses of energy by the household. He then grades the energy efficiency of the house and provides a report showing where any changes can be made to improve efficiency, and then will issue a Energy Performance Certificate.
In this article, we shall examine the extent of the surveys and the components and materials inspected.
Scope of the Survey
The scope includes:
- Operation of central and domestic water heating systems
- Insulation of piping and hot water tanks
- Use of high efficiency home appliances
- Condition and extent of loft insulation
- Window and wall insulation
- Building design and construction methods
Domestic and Central Heating Systems
- Boiler – there are still a lot of heating systems using very inefficient boilers. The surveyor will check the operation of the boiler including the CO2 emissions in the flue gasses. The boiler operation should be controlled by a timer.
- Hot Water Tank – this should be well insulated and the water temperature controlled by a thermostat set at the correct temperature. Hot water pipes should also be insulated.
- Central Heating System – the radiators should have thermostatic control valves fitted and have the correct output relevant for the size of the room they supply heat to.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Old electrical kitchen and large home appliances, especially washing machines and tumble dryers were very inefficient in the past.
Modern appliances all must carry an energy efficiency grading. This grade indicates the energy efficiency of the appliance, a Grade A being most efficient, a Grade G being the least efficient. High energy efficient fridges, freezers and cookers are now much better insulated, operating more efficiently. Washing machines and dishwasher efficiencies have improved by the use of cold water filling.
High efficiency graded tumble dryers are now available, however, as they are still the most expensive appliance to run, it should only be used when necessary and not on a regular basis if possible.
Thermal Insulation for the Home
- Walls – cavity wall insulation
- Loft – recommended depth of insulation
- Windows and doors – double-glazed windows and outside doors
Construction of Home
Older houses were built of solid stone or granite to which little insulation was added. Then came the double brick buildings of the sixties, when we were not really concerned with home insulation properties. Modern houses must be constructed following strict Building Regulations regarding insulation properties.
The energy surveyor will be looking for some measure of wall insulation; cavity wall being a very successful method.
Energy Efficiency Report and Energy Performance Certificates
Energy Efficiency Report
This is the report issued to the homeowner following an energy efficiency survey. It contains the efficiency ratings of the different components and areas inspected. It also contains recommendations for improvements, along with estimated costs and payback periods.
Energy Performance Certificates
These are issued a few days after the completion of the home energy use survey and are valid for 3 years from the date of issue. The cost of the survey and reports average £180.
What About the Rest of the World?
The Kyoto Protocol Treaty (Kyoto 1997) legally required the industrial countries of the world who signed up to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2005.
The European Parliament created a bill to make homes and buildings more energy efficient that were producing 50% of all CO2 emissions. The new bill made it compulsory for Member States (most Western European countries) to implement the home survey energy system by June 2007.
Southern California Edison (SCE) have introduced a state-wide Home Energy Efficiency Survey (HEES). This is a free online or in home voluntary survey program designed to cut CO2 emissions by increasing energy efficiency in the home.
A Wrap on Home Energy
Homes and businesses are responsible for a large percentage of world CO2 emissions, mostly due to inefficient use of energy.
Countries of Europe have been legally bound to carry out a home energy use survey before a property can be rented, purchased or sold.
Californian is one USA state to have introduced a free home energy survey, with other states hopefully to follow their lead.
The UK government has targeted homes and businesses for reduction in CO2 emissions through several initiatives, the latest one being instigating a mandatory home energy use survey. (As per the EU Directive)
These measures are also applicable to new buildings both domestic and business sectors. Hopefully in the future, these initiatives and directives will apply to all he countries in the world mitigating CO2 emissions.