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Quality assurance in energy efficiency and low carbon schemes in the domestic market

22 June 2015

Quality assurance in energy efficiency and low carbon schemes - Full report [ 1.1 mb]

The drive to improve energy efficiency in domestic homes has gained momentum in recent years, propelled by a mix of legislation and incentive schemes to encourage consumers to become more energy efficient or install renewable energy technologies. Examples are solar panels, cavity or solid wall insulation and energy efficient boilers.

To deliver the energy savings for the consumer as well as contribute towards the policy goals, such measures must be appropriate for the property and installed correctly. If either of these criteria are not fully satisfied, not only are Government policy objectives compromised, but consumers are potentially at risk of detriment from problems in their home that may take a number of years to come to light, something raised by Citizens Advice clients.

The Citizens Advice service therefore commissioned this research to assess the strengths and weaknesses of quality assurance in the domestic energy efficiency and low carbon market and understand what needs to change in order to simplify and strengthen the quality assurance landscape for consumers. This report presents the findings of research carried out for Citizens Advice by researchers Pye Tait.

The focus of the work was on the main Government schemes in this area: the Green Deal, Energy Company Obligation (ECO), Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS), Arbed, Nest and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

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This report is based on primary evidence gathered from a range of individuals and organisations currently operating in the market in England, Scotland and Wales, combined with secondary desk-based research to map the relevant organisations and their quality assurance functions.

The report sets out key issues identified by research participants:

  • Complexity
  • Issues with assessment and certification.
  • Issues with guarantees and warranties.
  • Issues with audit, standards and training.
  • The approach in the devolved nations.

It makes a number of recommendations for action within the following broad categories:

  • Simplify the quality assurance landscape
  • Close the gaps and loopholes in the quality assurance framework
  • Learn from best practice in schemes in Wales and Scotland