Company News 25/08/16

Preparation for a ‘cooler’ Autumn

You know when it spins at the Oval, and the opposition is on top, you’ve had a scorching summer!

Despite the uncharacteristically warmer-than-usual August, we’ve been fairly busy responding to lots of emails and calls about ways to prepare oneself for the upcoming colder period.

Developments with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Although, TheGreenAge has been very busy, the same can’t be said of the new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), created in July 2016. All we’ve had is a few announcements about projects that were already in the pipeline and the confirmation of the junior ministers who will be taking on various briefs.

Here is the list of junior ministers that will overseeing various elements of energy policy, and their associated responsibilities:

  • Nick Hurd – reporting back against the carbon budget, and looking after the Green Investment Bank interests
  • Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG – looking after various elements of energy generation, including energy efficiency.
  • Jesse Norman – supporting both Nick Hurd and Baroness Neville-Rolfe.

While we welcome the continuing focus towards meeting our carbon budgets and targeting lower emissions, we are slightly disappointed that energy efficiency is to be lead by a minister who sits in the House of Lords, particularly as these elements require torpedo-like focus and public accountability.

We wait patiently for the Autumn Statement/s and policy clarifications from the Treasury and the Dept of BEIS about the future direction of energy efficiency for both domestic and commercial properties.

Impact of the Private Rental Regulations (PRS) so far

As you may know, from April 2016, occupants in private rented accommodation can request energy efficiency improvements from their landlord/s if they are proven to make a positive impact. For example, for energy efficiency improvements where Green Deal finance or subsidies are available, the landlords should not have grounds to refuse these upgrades.

However, the issue is that although the Green Deal framework is still in place, there is actually very little or no funding available, so although tenants can request improvements, in theory the landlords can push back to April 2018 before they look at any potential improvements.

Although from April 2018, private domestic and non-domestic landlords will need to ensure that their properties reach at least a EPC rating of at least E, we believe that particularly on domestic properties this isn’t really ambitious enough.

We have had quite a number of calls from very proactive landlords in relation to the PRS regulations, and it’s quite refreshing to see many out there striving to provide quality and energy efficient accommodation for their tenants.

Green Deal framework still exists

As discussed above, while the Green Deal framework is still there – i.e. the Code of Practice, GDPs, GDIs, GDAOs and ECO – other sources of funding have disappeared (like the GDHIF) or are extremely limited, like Green Deal Finance.

We have seen the market possibly anticipating that the Green Deal framework will remain for the foreseeable future and on the back of this, energy companies are starting to put in place their own ‘pay-as-you save’ energy efficiency schemes, backed up by funding from other places.

It will be interesting if the like of British Gas, Npower, EON, etc move forward with their own schemes, as they already have a large customer base, and the ‘pay-as-you-save’ repayments and billing infrastructure is still all in place. Therefore, they have all the tools at their disposal to be able to put something together.

As for a national energy efficiency scheme, I think we may well be some time away from seeing the like come back. However, with the signals that infrastructure spend is a priority, perhaps we may see some of the community-funded schemes return with limited sources of funding. In our own experience, the community-led energy efficiency schemes have been successful to a point, as they enable more scaled deliver energy efficiency improvements on a street-by-street basis.

Finally, what has kept us busy

This summer has seen an unprecedented rise in interest for infrared heating solutions. Speaking with our partners earlier at EcoStore, they have seen a rise in queries for these alternative heaters, in particular where customers are getting rid of their rather old and inefficient storage heaters.

Infrared heating, or far infrared heating, is completely different to conventional heating. A good explanation of the differences is summarised by James in a recent Youtube video, see below:

The market for small and ad-hoc renewable generation was pretty strong this year, with increases in interest for self-generating solar PV kits and small scale wind turbines. With the weather being better than previous summers, consumers are more up for camping and other outdoor activities.

On the refurbishment side, we have received a significant increase in the number of calls for external wall insulation and thin coat flexible rendering solutions. With the refurbishment market still fairly strong in London, there is an appetite out there for long term and robust solutions that will improve the look of the existing property but also deliver a better product in the end.

This is us signing off for a couple of weeks now. Enjoy the bank holiday and see you again soon with more updates in September!