Is It Worth Becoming A Domestic Energy Assessor
The Benefits, Rewards and Challenges
What is a Domestic Energy Assessor
A Domestic Energy Assessor is a qualified person that is responsible for producing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
The EPC is a document that is required when a property is sold or rented and is valid for a period of 10 years.
It shows the energy efficiency of the property and recommendations of how it could be improved.
In this article we will be delving into the life and responsibilities of a DEA.
The Role of a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA)
A DEA has to visit each property to gather information that is then entered into approved government software that will then produce the EPC.
Information is gathered about the property that will include:
• The type of wall construction
• Dimensions of the property
With an ever increasing focus on reducing CO2 emissions and energy costs, the EPC has become an ever increasing important document.
The Path to Becoming a DEA
To become a DEA, a training course needs to be attended.
The length of the course is 1 week after which a portfolio of 5 properties needs to be completed.
Once your portfolio has passed and you are qualified, you need to join an Accreditation body who will then give you access to the approved software to lodge EPC.
For the first 6 months, 5% of your EPCs will be audited. If the results are satisfactory this will reduce to the minimum audit rate of 2%.
A continued satisfactory pass rate has to be maintained to assure continued acreditation.
How Much Can A Domestic Energy Assessor Earn?
Potential earning capacity is an important factor in any endeavour. An important question is “how much can a Domestic Energy Assessor earn“.
A domestic energy assessor can earn between £25,000 to £50,000 per annum dependent on the type of work they do.
Typically, Assessors that work for a panel will receive a larger volume of work at lower prices. Assessors that market for their own work can expect to get higher prices.
There are also further opportunities to increase earning by training as a Non Domestic Energy Assessor or as an On Construction Domestic Energy Assessor which are less competitive and can demand better prices.
A Day In The Life Of A DEA
We get the low down on what it is really like to be a Domestic Energy Assessor.
Lewis Dickson who has been a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor since 2015, was grateful enough to spare us some time and answer some questions.
What inspired you to become a Domestic Energy Assessor?
I fell into this by accident really. I originally did surveys for cavity wall insulation and loft insulation.
Around 2013 the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) grant scheme came in and to get a grant for cavity wall insulation and loft insulation, it had to show as a recommendation on an EPC.
So we all had to train up to be DEAs so we could carry out the EPC as well as do the survey for the insulation grants.
The grants stopped a couple of years later and I then found there was no work only the EPC remained. It was then that I mainly focussed on getting more EPC work.
Can you walk us through the process of conducting an energy assessment for a residential property?
I’ll arrive at the property and briefly explain to the customer what I am going to do and roughly how long it will take.
A very important fact is to explain to the customer that you need to take specific photos which are required for audit purposes before you start.
I’ll then go outside and take a note of the property wall construction type and divide the property in different sections based on age and the different heat loss types.
Each building section is called an extension.
I’ll then go inside and measure the main house area and any extensions.
I’ll then go around room by room and gather all the information required by the software about the:
A site visit on an average size property takes around 30 minutes. Once complete I’ll explain to the customer want happens next, which is basically that I have to go back to a computer or Ipad and then enter the data into the software package.
I would then email a copy of the certificate to the customer within 3 days of the site visit.
Sometimes the customer may need the certificate urgently in which case I complete the data entry on my iPad in my car the same day.
Because entering the data on the job takes longer which means you get less surveys done in a day, we charge the customer an additional charge, we call this an express EPC.
What are some of the most common energy efficiency improvements you recommend to homeowners?
The good thing about the EPC is that it is software driven. You personally don’t suggest the recommendations.
From your data input into the computer, the software will give a list of recommendations that it has calculated will reduce energy consumption.
It’s one of the things that take the pressure off of the Assessor.
How do you stay updated with the latest developments in energy-efficient technologies and regulations?
All Assessors have to do at least 10 hours of Continued Professional Development (CPD) every year as a continued requirement of their Accreditation.
The good thing is that the Accreditation bodies always keep you aware of changes in the industry and provide numerous CPD courses that increase your knowledge and keeps you up to date.
I am currently registered with three Accreditation bodies, which are ECMK, Stroma, and Elmhurst Energy.
In my opinion Elmhurst Energy provide the best support and easy to understand supporting information, but their lodgement fees and CPD courses tend to be more expensive than the others.
Could you share a memorable experience from your career that showcases the impact of your work?
Yes, a customer came to me with a complaint saying that the predicted running cost on the EPC I carried out was half of what she actually paid her supplier, and that the EPC must be incorrect.
The EPC will show the estimated running cost in Kilowatt hours that the home should be using to provide heating and hot water to the home.
I checked my data input for any errors but didn’t find any. I asked the customer to send me a copy of a recent bill, which she did. On looking at the bill, the annual kwh usage for gas was similar to that on the EPC, however, the electricity was 3 times as much as what was expected.
I arranged a further visit to the property to see if I could identify any obvious reason for the excessive electricity consumption.
Things that could lead to high electric consumption could be, leaving the immersion heater constantly on, numerous halogen recessed lights, swimming pools or hot tubs.
Still after this nothing unusual was found. The only alternative left was to refer the customer back to her energy supplier to check the accuracy of the electric meter.
3 weeks later the customer contacted me and advised that the electric company had found the problem.
The rented property next door had taken the liberty to cut into her electricity supply. The police were duly informed and subsequently discovered the stolen electricity was providing additional heat and lighting to the marijuana factory in the loft.
So basically, this all started by the EPC identifying that the actual homes energy consumption was abnormal.
What are the most significant challenges you face in your day-to-day work as a DEA?
The most significant challenge faced on a daily basis, is after completing the site visit, completing the data entry and providing the EPC to the customer in a short time scale.
Most people leave getting the EPC down to the last minute and when they want it, they want it yesterday.
Also making sure you get paid on time can be challenging as some people won’t pay you unless you ask. So keeping on track with customer payments can eat into your time.
How do you handle situations where homeowners are resistant to making energy-efficient upgrades?
It can sometimes be difficult when properties don’t reach the minimum energy efficiency standard of an E rating and the landlord doesn’t want to spend any money to make these improvements.
Many people think that just low energy lights and loft insulation is going to be the solution.
If the EPC rating is particularly poor then it might need an upgrade to the heating system or and insulation to the solid walls, which can be expensive.
As Assessors we can only explain to the customer why their property is rating low. Hopefully the new Great British Insulation Grant Scheme will give financial assistance.
In your opinion, what role do EPCs play in encouraging sustainable living and reducing carbon emissions?
Customers are much more in tune with the environmental issues and carbon emissions than when I first started, which is a good thing.
Customers are more engaged with the content on the EPC these days. 5 years ago many people saw it as just “red tape”.
Nowadays, because of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard and financial institutions basing some of their lending criteria on the EPC rating, it is taken as both a serious and useful document.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a Domestic Energy Assessor?
Yes, its an interesting and variable career. Some people worry that they need to know a lot before they start a course, but the opposite is true. If you start learning with a fresh and open mind, you will be a better Assessor.
It’s an ideal job if you want to be self-employed, as you can set your own volume of work you want to do. However, bear in mind that the EPC market is competitive, and the product is a relatively low cost product, so to earn a decent living you do have to do between 4 and 7 EPCs a day depending on the price you get per job.
You don’t need many tools as an Assessor but the most critical tool you need is a reliable and economical car.
One thing that has significantly changed in the last year is the number of queries from customers as to why the EPC rating may not have turned out as they were expecting. Everyone always wants their EPC to rate as high as possible.
So you are going to need good writing and communication skills to answer questions promptly in a professional manner.
When I did my training course, we had to write sample letters answering queries and complaints, which at the time I thought was simply training fluff. However, in the real world this will be a valuable skill required by an Assessor.
Domestic Energy Assessors are responsible for assessing property energy efficiency and generating Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), making it a flexible career option with a positive environmental impact.