Thursday, 15 November 2007

Buyers need tax incentives to make eco changes

Nick Beart feels the Government has got it wrong with EPCs. " The EPCs are a wasted opportunity ," he says.
His two main objections are the lack of financial incentives to make energy efficiency changes, and the too-simplistic graphs. "According to our graph, our energy efficiency rating is on band E. It says that if all the changes recommended were made, the rating would be, err, still level E. That's cracking, isn't it. I've spent £400 on this report which tells me that I've got single-glazed sash windows, which I already knew and is why we have triple-lined curtains. It's also asking the purchasers to spend thousands on double glazing that would make no difference to the rating." Mr Beart argues that if the new owners of his house were given a financial incentive to make some of the changes, then it would have been a more worthwhile exercise.

His argument is echoed by environmental groups who say that without financial incentives, all the EPCs provide is information. The Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recommended in a report in July, "That the Government provide a stamp duty rebate to purchasers who improve the energy performance of their property within one year of purchase." The Government has not yet responded to this.

Dave Timms, Green Homes campaigner for Friends of the Earth, says: " The first six months is the best time to make changes when buyers are renovating. With an incentive they would be more likely to make the m. The Government has got to aim high if we are to achieve our target and cut CO2 emissions from housing by 80 per cent."

He says part of the problem is that EPCs were introduced with the unpopular HIPs, which vendors have to provide at an average cost of £350 to £500. Despite this, over half of homeowners in the country did not know what EPCs were, recent research by the Energy Savings Trust shows.

Christopher Lacy, of estate agents Savills, says buyers are showing little interest in HIPs or EPCs and just seeing them as yet another cost of moving.

But some agents, such as My Place, south London, have embraced EPCs. "Inexpensive changes such as putting in loft insulation can help push a house up a band," says director Chris Kelly.

Michael Jack, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, says: "If the Government wants people to make their homes more energy efficient, then giving a tax rebate incentive would be a positive step."

One seller's view
Janette Bacchetta, who lives in Upper Norwood, south London, is not convinced that EPCs are worthwhile. She put her fourbedroom 1930s semi on the market this autumn and had around a dozen viewings in the first six weeks.

"Nobody asked to see my Home Information Pack in all that time and I'm afraid I have no idea what my Energy Performance Certificate says."

She says that the assessor who came to inspect her home spent 45 minutes in the house and didn't look in the loft.

"I'm not sure how helpful that level of information is going to be to a possible purchaser. I mean, they can see for themselves when they come round what kind of windows and boiler we've got."

Get a free report on your house from the Energy Saving Trust:
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