At the Zero Carbon Conference last week at the Building Centre, David Birkbeck of Design for Homes spoke memorably about two things (one, how much he likes my blog,thanks David!) but more importantly how little we know about the performance of our dwellings. When we are buying our homes we neither know how big they are, or how much they cost to run.
When we buy a car, we know both of these things and we are increasingly being taxed into buying more efficient models by paying more for high emission vehicles and by getting tax breaks; no parking fee or congestion charge exemption for low emission models.
He asked the audience if they knew their dwelling consumption in kwh/m2 and predictably no-one apart from himself knew. Many of us knew the predicted performance of our cars because we are told it on the dashboard, in real time.
The emissions of our dwellings and the area of the dwelling is included in the EPC, but it is only there if you know where to look.
His point is that in order to make low and zero carbon dwellings more popular and more desirable we need to flaunt their performance in a way that the buying public understands and can easily compare.
CLG and DECC are reviewing the purpose and performance of the EPC, and more importantly the calculations in RDSAP that produce it for existing dwellings. This is an opportunity to improve that software, its use and its data and get some real information into the hands of the housebuyer. They need to be able to compare the cost of living in a low or zero carbon home against the cost of a poorly performing century old dwelling which may be charming, but charm can disappear quickly when it comes at a price.
For the record, my homes mpg is 182 kwh/sqm/annum