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Green Deal advice revisited

A little over a year ago, I wrote Green Deal – will the advice be good enough? for YouGen. Time moves on, and slowly we are seeing more detail about Green Deal, including how energy advice will be provided. The Green Deal will be launched in less than 9 months (October 2012), and this article provides a summary of the advice provision currently proposed.

Who will provide the advice?

Advice in Green Deal will be provided by qualified, certified Green Deal Advisors (GDAs), who will deliver advice during a home visit. There will also be a telephone advice line, giving basic advice and information about the scheme, and how to get a visit from a GDA.

The GDA will provide their customer with a Green Deal Advice Report, which the customer may then take to a Green Deal Provider of their own choice. Without this visit and report, customers will not be able to take advantage of Green Deal installations and Green Deal finance.

Every advisor will have to take a mandatory qualification before they may work as a GDA.

There will be a need to train and qualify a number of GDAs before the scheme begins in October of this year, and uncertainty about how GDAs will be paid could result in fewer candidates registering for the qualification. The Green Deal Advisors Association states that DECC officials are now investigating the best way of adding a requirement into the scheme, to ensure that the Green Deal Advisor receives payment for their work.

Energy assessment

It’s been accepted that the first step in giving advice, on either behavioural changes or energy efficiency measures, is to carry out a thorough energy assessment of the property. For homes, this means an inspection by a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA), as is required when a home is sold or let, to produce an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) (I have previously blogged about how to read a home’s EPC, here and here). To be able to do this, every domestic GDA will also need to register as a DEA. If a valid EPC exists for the home, the GDA will be able to use it (having first checked its accuracy) and if none exists, she will produce one. 

In order to improve the quality and usefulness of EPCs, all current DEAs are now required to take a further qualification. Those that do not pass will not be allowed to provide EPCs after April of this year. This coincides with the new-style EPC (as recommended by Consumer Focus and discussed in an earlier blog) replacing the current version. 

Personalising the advice

The EPC assessment ignores how the current occupier uses the home, since the new occupier is unlikely to use it in exactly the same way. However, in order to give advice that reflects the current occupier’s needs, the assessment must consider how the occupier uses their home. So although the DEA’s normal inspection is a great starting point, more is needed to make the advice fit the needs of the current occupier.

These additions, called an Occupancy Assessment, have been specified following the advice of a team of energy advice experts. When it’s finished, provision for this extra assessment will be added to the software that’s currently used to produce EPCs, but only for Green Deal. It will not be used for EPCs, which will continue to be based only on the home, not how its occupiers use it. The final specification is not available, but essentially, it will capture how the current occupier’s use of their home differs from the assumptions made in the EPC assessment; for example, the hours of heating, or whether parts of the home are not heated. By identifying these differences, the GDA is able to explain to their customer whether the standard savings estimates will apply to them, or if they might expect to save more or less than the predictions.

People skills

It’s not just about using software, though.  GDAs will also need to be skilled in talking to customers to establish their wishes and needs, so that the advice can be tailored to them.  To achieve this, all GDAs will need to take a vocational qualification which tests their ability to give advice, as well as their knowledge of the advice to give.  Those keen to know what this qualification covers can follow the link to read the National Occupational Standards for green deal advice.

What will the advice cover?

Advice will be available for all the energy efficiency measures that Green Deal finance is available for.  It’s currently envisaged that this means all those listed in the measures specification, called PAS2030, although it’s possible that others may be added.  This document (produced by BSi and available to purchase from them) sets out the standards installers must follow when installing them.  The measures include: 

Heating:

Condensing Boilers: Natural Gas-fired, Liquefied Petroleum Gasfired and Oil-fired

Heating Controls, Under-floor Heating, Flue-gas Recovery Devices, Gas-fired Warm-air Heating Systems, Electric Storage Heaters, Heating System Insulation (pipes and cylinders), Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps, Solar Thermal, Biomass Boilers, Micro CHP

Building Fabric Insulation:

Cavity Wall Insulation, Loft Insulation, Pitched Roof Insulation, Flat Roof Insulation, Internal Wall Insulation, External Wall Insulation, Hybrid Wall Insulation, Floor Insulation.

Other:

Draught Proofing, Energy Efficient Glazing and Doors, Lighting Fittings, Lighting Controls (Not for domestic), Solar PV, Micro and Small Scale Wind Turbine Systems

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