National Energy Foundation welcomes Bonfield Review

22nd December 2016

The National Energy Foundation welcomes the Bonfield Review (Each Home Counts) but not without reservations about the practicalities of its recommendations.

In July 2015, the Secretaries of State for the former Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) jointly commissioned Dr Peter Bonfield to conduct an independent review of consumer advice, protection, standards and enforcement for home energy efficiency and renewable energy measures in the UK.

The objective of the recently-published Bonfield Review (Each Home Counts) is to ensure that there is a robust and effective quality and standards framework to support and protect consumers when they install energy efficiency and renewable energy measures in their homes, and in the event that installations go wrong.

The review makes 27 recommendations and proposes a new quality and standards framework, which includes putting in place:

  • Quality mark - for the design and installation of all energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, including assessment and certification.
  • Consumer charter - to ensure consumers receive excellent customer service, and access to redress procedures when things go wrong.
  • Code of conduct - for companies operating in the home renewable energy and energy efficiency sector.
  • Technical codes of practice and standards - for the installation of home renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
  • Information hub - for both consumers and industry to access best practice.
  • Data warehouse - to allow access to better data on homes (drawing on EPC database, for example), thereby leading to better informed decisions and better advice.
  • Improved engagement with consumers and awareness-raising – of renewables and energy efficiency at both a local and national level.
  • Better training – to build up knowledge and competences within the industry.
  • Stronger monitoring, compliance and enforcement – by setting up a robust, joined-up compliance system with nationwide enforcement to ensure that poor quality work is dealt with effectively.

The Foundation welcomes the thrust of the review’s recommendations, but notes that there is no mention of how consumer demand for energy efficiency measures is going to be driven to the level needed to ensure that the UK meets its 2050 carbon emissions targets.

The Foundation also notes that:

  • The industry has a lot of work ahead of it to establish the new frameworks and their support mechanisms.
  • There is a danger that the new frameworks become too complex, too bureaucratic and don’t result in raising standards as much as is hoped.
  • The new mechanisms (such as the quality mark, for example) will only work if they have weight and authority.
  • Success will only be achieved if the Government provides a stable, long-term policy environment that encourages investment and market development.