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UK Government Announce Energy Ratings for Homes

Energy ratings similar to consumer-friendly fridge ratings will have to be produced for every home bought and sold in England and Wales from next June, the Government announced today.

Housing Minister Yvette Cooper today launched the new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which will be an essential part of the Home Information Packs to be introduced next year.

The certificates will give home buyers and sellers A to G ratings for their home’s energy efficiency and carbon emissions. They will tell them current average costs for heating, hot water and lighting in their home as well as how to cut costs with energy efficiency measures.

The reports, prepared by qualified home inspectors, will advise consumers on which energy measures - ranging from thicker loft insulation right through to solar panels - could cut carbon emissions from their home and improve their energy rating.

Yvette Cooper said

“Given the growing challenge from climate change and rising energy costs, I think people should be entitled to this kind of information about the home they buy. You can get this kind of consumer information on fridges and washing machines, so why not on a home where the emissions - and the savings - are so much greater?

“By providing people with sound advice on how to improve energy efficiency this will help sellers and buyers who want to do their bit to cut carbon emissions as well as cutting their fuel bills too.”

The energy ratings will be included in Home Condition Reports (HCRs) which will set out important independent information on the condition of the property as part of the Home Information Pack.

Paul King, UK Campaigns Director of the WWF, said:

"Our homes account for 27% of the UK's CO2 emissions contributing to global climate change.

"The introduction of the Energy Performance Certificate represents a very positive step forward. It means that for the first time people will be given the kind of user-friendly information they need to reduce both the environmental impact of their homes and their energy bills."

European agreements require that from 2009 all homes for sale should have energy certificates. Including certificates within the Home Information Packs is a fast and cost effective way to give consumers the most up to date information without them having to pay for additional surveys. It also means England and Wales will be among the EU front runners, introducing energy certificates 2 years earlier then the deadline set out in the EU directive and linking energy measures to a report on property condition.

The EPC will include practical information about a range of changes which will be viable for that home including things like cavity wall insulation or double glazing. It will also list measures to cut carbon emissions even further such as solar panels or wind turbines, where possible.

The Home Information Packs will be introduced in June 2007 in response to many years of campaigning by the consumers association Which? Energy Performance Certificates are one of the main new elements in the Pack, which predominantly includes information already needed and paid for when homes are bought and sold.

However, by providing the information at the beginning of the process rather than the end, Home Information Packs can cut waste and duplication and so prevent many sales falling through - providing added benefits for consumers.

By transferring many of the same costs from buyers to sellers Home Information Packs will also make a big difference to first time buyers without impacting on most people who are both buyers and sellers at the same time.

The regulations prescribing the content of Home Information Packs are expected to be laid later this week following extensive consultation.

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