Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Minister pledges support for low energy rated homes

Minister pledges support for low energy rated homes

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (082) issued by The Government News Network on 18 April 2007

Most first-time buyers purchasing a home with a 'E, F or G' energy rating could benefit from grants to help improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) - A-G energy ratings for homes similar to consumer friendly fridge ratings - will be part of Home Information Packs (HIPs), which will be required for all homes being marketed from 1 June.

Subsidies of between £100 to £300 are typically available from energy suppliers to help fund the costs of insulation, and other energy efficiency improvements. In addition some first-time buyers could be eligible for Government grants of up to as much as £2,700.

But the Government wants go further to make it easier for homebuyers to access grants for energy efficiency measures, linking them to new EPCs.

In a speech on Home Information Packs today, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said she will be hosting a major meeting of energy suppliers, local authorities, and the Energy Savings Trust (EST), to develop new measures to help home owners implement the recommendations in EPCs.

This could include ideas such as a 'one stop shop' where homeowners, after receiving their energy ratings, could access grants and get reliable quotes at the same time to carry out improvements needed.

Yvette Cooper said:

"We want homebuyers with poorly rated homes to be able to get extra support. From 1 June we want homebuyers to have easy access to help so they can make changes recommended in their EPC. Average homebuyers purchasing E, F or G rated homes should be able to qualify for £100-£300 support to help with better insulating their homes. Depending on their personal circumstances or the nature of the improvements needed, they may be able to get even more help."

New research shows that consumers want to know more about energy efficiency, with the majority supporting the idea of energy ratings.

According to You Gov, more than two thirds of people (72%) want more information about the energy efficiency of the homes they are buying. The recent poll also reveals that 71% of people think it is a good idea to rate the energy efficiency of homes. Nearly half (47%) said they would make their home more energy efficient if they had more information on what to do.

The Energy Savings Trust has estimated that householders could save around £300 a year if they undertook measures in EPCs. If only one in five homeowners make the basic changes recommended, this could cut carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road.

Yvette Cooper said:

"We know people want better information about the energy efficiency of their homes. That is why it is so disappointing that there are still some in the industry opposing EPCs or trying to water them down."

In her speech, Yvette Cooper highlighted how HIPs will benefit the consumer by creating greater transparency in the housing market and driving down costs. She also challenged the whole of the industry to put the consumer first.

She said:

"Most people recognise that reform is long overdue. The home buying and selling process has barely changed for a generation. Other industries and markets have become quicker, more efficient and cheaper for consumers. For home buying and selling, the reverse has happened. "The lack of transparency, effective competition and innovation means many consumers can often end up paying more than they should, and coping with far more stress and uncertainty than they should.

"But already there is evidence that reforms are improving competition. New providers are entering the market and new companies are cutting costs and prices. One provider has said they will offer HIPs for free. Others will do so on a 'no sale no fee' basis. Some local authorities are already cutting search costs too.

Yvette Cooper concluded:

"HIPs are simply energy certificates alongside the legal documents and searches that you need anyway. But by providing the information clearly in a pack at the beginning of the process, HIPs can speed up the process making it clearer for consumers what they are getting and paying for, to improve services and keep costs down.

"It is important that vested interests are not put ahead of the needs of the consumer and the wider environment. The challenge instead to all in the home buying and selling process should be to seize on the opportunity from HIPs and EPCs to help homebuyers get their bills and their carbon emissions down.

"The Government's view is clear: consumers are the priority. They haven't had a good enough deal in the past. We want them to get a better deal in future."

Notes to Editors:

1. A Home Information Pack is a set of documents that provides buyers and sellers with information they need to know about a property upfront. Packs will include:

* An Energy Performance Certificate, the first document in the Pack, which will provide a rating on the energy efficiency of the home, plus advice on how to make energy savings

* Searches

* Other standard legal documents, such as title deeds and a sale statement

* Leasehold information (where appropriate)

* A voluntary Home Condition Report, which details the condition of the property.

2. You Gov conducted research between 22nd and 26th March 2007, interviewing interviewing a sample of 2,819 individual's representative of the adult population of Great Britain.

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