Concerns over energy ratings of older homes in rural areas
PUBLISHED: 10:08 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:08 13 June 2017
Christopher Anstey highlights concerns over the energy ratings of older homes and listed properties, particularly in rural areas
We have an immensely diverse range of housing stock in this country. In our villages, 40% of all homes were built before 1919, with many dating back centuries. The fact they are still here and still valued reflects their traditional construction from stone and solid brick. They are often highly sought after properties and an important part of our cultural heritage.
However, thousands of these period properties spread across our countryside are being failed by flawed Government policy which inaccurately assesses their energy performance and encourages damaging improvements in the name of energy efficiency. Without urgent reform, thousands of homeowners will continue to be signposted towards retrofit measures that are either inappropriate or outright harmful to the structure and character of the building.
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required for all properties when built, sold or let. Performance is rated on a scale of A-G, with Band A being the most efficient. Most residential properties in the UK achieve a band D-E rating but older, predominantly rural properties are more likely to fall within the lower F-G bracket due to the nature of their construction.
The EPC provides details on the energy performance of the property and recommends work to improve it, but it is failing to accurately reflect the energy efficiency of traditionally built homes. The CLA wants to see the methodology used for the assessment urgently reformed so it does not continue to discriminate against old rural properties and to ensure homeowners are channelling the right kind of investment into the right type of improvements.
It is an issue which is of particular concern to those rural landowners who provide housing for rent. From 1 April 2018, it will be illegal for a private landlord to let a property with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating lower than E to new tenants and from 1 April 2020 this will apply to all existing tenancies.
The improvements being recommended for older homes on the EPC raise technical concerns about the types of insulation used and the techniques associated with applying them. This is particularly worrying for Listed buildings or those within conservation areas.
As yet, it is very unclear whether a Listed building requires an EPC but the CLA is urging the Government to exempt Listed buildings. There is limited scope for improvements that would not harm or change the character of such properties and their status may restrict measures for improvement and require negotiation with planners.
The CLA has called on the Government to remove all confusion over the exemption of Listed buildings. It should be common sense that lumping them in with all other buildings under this policy is asking for trouble.
To read a copy of the CLA’s report – ‘The Retrofit-Up – how Government energy policy is failing older houses across the British countryside’ go to www.cla.org.uk.