UK v US & Canada Energy Assessments

Here’s hoping I have chosen the correct forum.

I come on a mission from the U.K.

As some of you may, or may not know, UK Govt., along with other European Union member states, are mandated to improve the energy efficiency and environmental impact of buildings.

Initially, our Govt intended to roll the above requirements into a new profession: Home Inspectors!

Home Inspectors, from what I can tell reading this most informative site, were to perform a role much like that which you undertake. The resulting document is called a Home Condition Report (HCR).

The HCR was to be a mandatory component of selling a home, paid for by the homeseller and required before marketing could commence.

For reasons too complex to go into here (political ineptness is how many describe it!), the profession was killed before its target launch date back in late 2006; replaced instead with a new requirement called the Home Information Pack (HIP).

The HIP just basically contains the legal documents on the property (Legal Title, Searches etc…) plus an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) - the one requirement which Govt. could not remove because of said EU requirement.

And so another profession was born…

The HCR does actually exist, although it is now only an optional report. The Govt. continues to say that a future mandatory inclusion within the homebuying process is still “on the table”.

Inevitably, HI training courses died whilst others quickly emerged to offer another route to vast wealth and fortune as a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA).

Keeping up with all the acronyms and abbreviations so far?! Good.

Many trainee Home Inspectors (HIs) lost their training fees (circa £15k) and although some continued through to qualification (and even to accreditation), many others did not, losing homes and marriages in the process. Some remain to eke out a living as a DEA hoping the Govt. will one day mandate HCRs.

So that’s an abridged, and tightly condensed, history of events, so far as HIs in the UK is concerned.

But my real reason for writing this is to establish what and how your energy assessments are conducted.

I understand from what I’ve read here that there is an element of energy efficiency in your HI reports, although it’s not all that clear how it works (I guess because you have different jurisdictions in different States).

Anyway, I run the website in my signature below. I have been conducting podcast interviews with many of the industry leaders within the UK as a means of disseminating news and views, as well as getting to know who those players are, blah blah…

I think it would be very educational and interesting to hear from someone on your shores, share experiences and methodologies with someone on our shores, about such things like: how the industry is structured; legislation; lobbying; associations; fees; the inspection and calculation methodology; future; energy etc…

I don’t know if anyone would be interested, or who would be most suitable (nominations welcome), but if anyone is, please either respond here, PM, or contact me via my site.

The podcasts are available via RSS and to readers and casual visitors to my blog, and are also ‘stickied’ atop of the UKs leading forum: the Home Inspector Forum, of which I am a moderator </disclosure>.

I make them freely distributable so you are free to host a copy here or wherever, on condition a link to the show-notes is included.

I look forward to any contributions you may make.

…except my signature has not appeared!

OK, here it is: Energy Performance Certificates


This is what our Government has done here in Canada.

Here is the consumers guide to energy put out by the United States dept of Energy…

The term “energy audit” is wide open to interpretation, depending on the provider.
There are no clear cut federal laws to say what it is or is not (that I know of).

Some of the building codes mandate minimum requirements regarding some
insulation values, moisture barriers and mechanical issues in new home

Thank you both. Sorry for not getting back sooner.

I must say, the grants available in Canada are very impressive, Mario. That is something I will definitely be taking notes about.

John: I happened across the US DoE earlier, as it happens - They have a very good section at with lots of informative videos and materials.

So, as far as I can make out then, there is no mandatory requirement to have an energy audit conducted over there?

I’ve had some PMs from members here, but so far, none brave enough to come on to the podcast. I’m still keen to do it if anyone is interested in swapping notes, so to speak.

I am speaking from my own personal experience as a home builder, not as a expert on energy codes. The energy codes you found on are, unfortunately largely ignored, at least in my area of the country.

The codes are designed to be a “sum of all components” of a building envelope. That is the amount of glazing to the overall wall surface, u-values of windows and doors, total R-value of walls and ceilings, energy efficiency of HVAC systems, etc. The code is designed where you can swap the value of one component for the value of another. That is, you can increase the amount of glazing by increasing the amount of insulation or increasing the HVAC efficiency or decrease the amount of glazing and decrease the amount of insulation or HVAC efficiency. Or you can increase the U-value of windows and increase glazing area. In essence you can manipulate the value of any components in the building envelope to effect the required value of other components.

At first glance, “sum of the components” seems like a reasonable way to approach energy efficiency in a new home considering all the different window styles and manufactures of windows, doors, HVAC systems, insulation, styles of wall and ceiling construction, etc. Using the free programs found at it is not too difficult to design homes that meet the criteria.

Unfortunately architects don’t seem to consider energy efficiency in their designs. Perhaps with good reason since the energy code requirements vary widely depending on the region of the country you build in. The specs for a home in New England would be a lot different than Georgia or California. Therefore homes are designed to be pretty, not efficient. Any considerations to efficiency are determined by the builder and the region he builds in.

The design problems are fairly easy to overcome though. If a builder chooses to do so. It’s the enforcement of the energy codes that’s the real problem. Local government inspectors would have to have specific knowledge of each building they are inspecting and the components used, formulas on total size of the building envelope and amount of total glazing, total R-values of wall, ceiling, and floor components, etc. That’s more information than the local government inspectors have. Nor do they have the time to compile that information. The solution here was to have a builder sign an affidavit that he will follow the mandated energy codes for the region before he is issued a building permit. All builders sign, many, if not most, don’t comply. Basically, if a code is not enforced by the government inspector it is largely ignored. I imagine it will take an attorney filing a class action against a few large builders to get the rest to fall in line.

What we have is a government mandated energy code that is largely unenforced. A few energy related items such as a government mandate on suppliers for low volume plumbing fixtures or higher energy rating on HVAC systems and some market driven improvements such as higher R-values on insulation or double pane windows. Homes sales in this country are pretty much determined by price. Any costs associated with energy, quality, efficiency are all secondary to price and competition.

This has gotten way longer than intended. Hope it helps answer some questions.

Just my two cents. Other opinions may vary.