Training as a Community & Housing Energy Advisor

The new qualifications; Housing Energy Advisor (HEA) and Community Energy Advisor (CEA) are intended to enable individuals to provide advice on energy efficiency to both individual households and the wider community. It is envisaged that these advisers will help the government reach environmental targets.

Home Energy Adviser (HEA), too good to be true?

Is the new Housing Energy Adviser (HEA) role an opportunity for individuals looking for a new self-employed business, an avenue the utility companies will create full time ‘sales’ positions for, or just yet another course training providers will sell at a premium with the ‘possibility’ of previously un-imagined wealth?

Certainly the original concept seemed sound; with individuals visiting peoples homes to carry out a full home energy audit including an energy performance certificate (EPC) and additional practical advice on how to lower the property’s energy consumption and in turn the carbon footprint of the property.

However, the role seems to have been gradually watered down and it will no longer be a requirement that the Housing Energy Advisor carries out an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and therefore no longer is there a need for the individual to be a trained domestic energy assessor.

It was initially planned that one of the pre-requisites of training as a Community and/or Housing Energy Advisor would be being a qualified domestic energy assessor. One must wonder why this original intention was dropped when we have such an over supply and easily accessible existing workforce with current DEA numbers.

Domestic energy assessors (DEA) have remained impartial and independent not cross selling products or services such as loft or cavity wall insulation apart from the odd rogues which of course are found in all industries. DEAs have taken great pride in their professionalism whilst many other professionals they work alongside are selling a wide range of other ‘complimentary’ services from other external businesses.

If the Housing Energy Advisor (HEA) role is largely undertaken by the large utility companies and the home energy audit is carried out for ‘free’ is it realistic that these energy suppliers will not also be selling to the homeowners; for example new condensing combi boilers, insulation and boiler servicing plans?

Is it a good idea to train as a Housing Energy Advisor?

There is no doubt the training providers are relishing being able to offer the Housing Energy Adviser course, we have already seen a number of training providers being told to retract advertising material and complaints about email marketing campaigns aimed at recruiting individuals.

Some of the training providers seem to be planning on ‘expanding’ their offerings and intend to ‘sell’ energy saving products to their trainees who inturn will sell them to the homeowners they visit. With this type of potential practice, will the role be mainly looking at giving impartial energy saving advice or selling products?

It is quite likely that these roles will become employed positions by the energy companies, there are similar roles currently being advertised at £15k with potential OTE of £28k. If you are aiming for being employed it maybe an option but if as most domestic energy assessors had hoped, that you will develop a thriving self employed small business solely from the roles, it maybe worth considering the option more carefully and carrying out a structured business plan.

If the roles become sales positions within for example utility/energy companies it would certainly be a missed opportunity from what originally looked an exciting development/idea when the Housing Energy Advisor (HEA) and Community Energy Advisor (CEA) roles were first consulted upon.

Over the mid to long term; how will this develop? Is this a true opportunity for individuals?, and what will we see achieved in regard to improving energy efficiency in our homes?

Home Energy Advisor provide further reading and information on the subject for both home owners and professionals.

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14 Responses to “Training as a Community & Housing Energy Advisor”

  1. Alyn Edwards DEA Says:

    I congratulate you on an excellent article, I share the reservations made regarding HEA/CEA training and the potential opportunity, or lack of it, for independent DEAs.

    For a start a similar qualification already exists as City&Guilds 6176.

    I think the only people who would benefit from this ‘new qualification’ are the training providers (TPs), the government sponsored contractors (e.g. EAGA a.k.a warmfront and warmzone, etc.) and the utility companies.

    I was first approached back in July by TPs regarding this ‘fantastic new opportunity’ before they even knew what the qualification would require, yet alone designed a course. I have recently been contacted again by TPs to sign up for courses which are now running but when I raised the questions contained in your article they had no answers.

    As your article suggests, many of these TPs are claiming that they already have opportunities for trainees to employ their new qualification but in reality these are as sub-contractors to the likes of Warmzone and Warmfront, see (training providers website removed)
    They also claim to be getting Local Authorities to sign up but whay would an LA want to contract lots of independent HEAs? They wouldn’t and so in this sense the TP just becomes a Panel and we know how well they have treated DEAs.

    And finally, it is virtually certain that we will soon have a new Conservative government. Grant Schapps, the shadow housing minister has announced a policy to ‘Just do it’, i.e., to retrofit energy efficiency measures in all homes. This could easily translate into persuading the utility companies to carry out Home Audits/psuedo EPCs for FREE and install insulation measures at a subsidised rate. This would meet the EU EPBD directive at a stroke and get’s the Tories’ fat cat friends in the utilities off the hook for their extortionate energy pricing. Whist this might be a quick fix for the UK environment it spells the death of the independent DEA and HEA/CEA before the inks dry on their certificate.

    In short, I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole!

  2. Yes, all very cosy for the training providers. Is it ethical for trainers to also be offering the very same service, so competing against those they have trained

  3. Can you not see an obvious route for DEAs with no work. There is anticipated that there will be 5 million homes that will need a home energy audit/report carrying out. It is likely most DEAs will be able to upgrade to a HEA with a small investment which is likely to be returned in a very short period.

    The DEA supply issue is different to the potential chances the housing energy adviser offers. Local authorities are already starting to look into finding local independent contractors. In regard to pricing it is expected to be several times the cost of the EPC as it will be much more complex than the EPC.

  4. @Dave T

    Is the re-training issue not exactly what we heard from training provider on the NDEA training course and still do, encouraging DEAs to carry out more training.

    What fee levels are you sugesting will be payable to a self employed HEA, when the home owner is unlikely to be charged.

  5. If any training providers would like to comment on the potential of these courses and their thoughts towards the above article we would be most interested to hear from you.

    In due course, we will be asking a number of training providers directly their views on the HEA and CEA roles.

  6. Alyn Edwards DEA Says:

    “Local authorities are already starting to look into finding local independent contractors.” Dave T

    Dave what evidence do you have of this. I previously ran an unrelated small business and whilst LAs are required by law to invite tenders from small businesses they usually have caveats in their Ts&Cs which would automatically preclude them e.g. £10m PLI for a contract worth a few thousand at most.

    “In regard to pricing it is expected to be several times the cost of the EPC as it will be much more complex than the EPC.” Dave T

    How can the Home Audit be more complex than an EPC when the training courses are only 2 days with no prerequsite knowledge?

    As for pricing, the owners of the targeted homes will not pay for these audits so they will have to given away free. Instead of fees I suggest the HEA will receive commission for any insulation measures ‘sold’. Very impartial, I don’t think.

    You are right about one thing though, there will be no shortage of desparate, underworked DEAs trying to jump on this band wagon.

  7. It’s ridiculous that the multitude of training companies that are out there have been advertising the training already. DEAs are being taken for a ride again, property professionals wont give a damn because there is nothing in it for them, training and utility companies will be gagging at the bit to get a slice of this.

    How many companies stand to make lots of money by placing an invited, knowledgeable, credible advisor [otherwise known as a salesman] into every home? It certainly wont be the surveyor unless they get in on commission or will probably get paid £16k OTE.

    The role should also have behavioural advice, which does not earn anyone money so will be dropped (imho) if it hasn’t already.

    @Dave T
    “5 million homes that will need a home energy audit/report carrying out”

    5,000,000 / 12,000 = 416 audits per qualified DEA
    @£20.00 each that’s £8320 – expenses? good investment?
    And what happens then Dave?
    Once those 5,000,000 homes have been surveyed, what does the surveyor do? Pay for more training to do it all again?

    This will be of no benefit to the consumer.

  8. Look we all know that not everyone will be successful. But hang on guys the market is 5 milion homes at least. The behavioural change part of the visit WILL be time consuming alongside the energy audit. How do you get to £20? If DEAs dont cut their throats again, they could earn a good living from this.

    Yes, there will be sales involved. But what harm is this when you are selling products the clients will want and benefit from?

  9. I for one do not see the problem offering something for sale that the owner would benefit from. Plumbers, electricians etc etc all do this, what is the difference.

    Gas fitter goes to the house, says the back boiler is on its last legs and is not really very efficient to todays standards. Gas fitter installs and makes a few quid. Is this not what business is about?

    Ian are you not being a bit over the top with your heat pump scenario?

    Will the energy advisor not produce a energy report and sign post possible quality suppliers, which maybe the energy suppliers or local independants? If they get a kickback, you should not be suprised, this has been happening since time begun.

  10. £20.00 may be a bit flippant, but there is nothing to indicate it will be any higher.

    The number of surveys per qualified DEA is correct.

    According to the 2001 census, there were 22,539,000 homes in England and Wales, so this may be 4 years work earning a pittance, forking our for more training every year.

    What then?

    Surveyors should not be salesmen, they should be (and DEAs are required by European law to be) independent to give an un-biased survey. This is re-living and encouraging the bad days of the 80s door-to-door double glazing salesmen genre.

    Imagine if the surveyor only got commission for selling Ground Source Heat Pumps. The property has already got an a++ rated gas condensing boiler. The recommendation made would to replace the heating and hot water system with a ground source heat pump. How does this benefit the consumer? would this always be the most efficient? What about the initial cost and pay back?

    Sample Report:

    Windows: Yes / Who Cares

    Doors: Yes / Who Cares

    Walls: Who Cares

    Roof: Yes / Who Cares

    Education (of salesman): Say “sign here” “I’ll let myself out and close the door behind me.”

    Interaction and education (of home-owner):Can you sign your name on this direct debit mandate?

    Comments: Survey not necessary as they do not have a GSHP, so I have flogged them one.

  11. I never asked to be on their mailing list, as they say i did . However, here is parts of the email i received today. I have tried to include points which may interest others.

    We are writing to you because you have registered for updates with us in regard to the HEA programme, or registered for training as a Housing Energy Advisor or Community Energy Advisor.

    Thank you for your patience, we had to delay our original training dates while we waited for the release of the ABBE HEA qualification; this is now due on the 1st December, but regardless of this we are proceeding with our training on HEA as we have a number of business needs that require an expansion of our assessment team, initially in some London boroughs; we have also included a number of questions that we have been asked by energy assessors, and we have answered these as best we can.

    What other avenues of work are available to me as a HEA?

    If you have existing or recent projects that you have worked on such as social housing EPC programmes, then your local authority or housing association client may require your services again.

    Remember that going forward there are anticipated to be a requirement for 5.5m home energy audits across the private and social housing sectors, with a targeted installation of 3.5m data readers, or a combination of the two.

    If you want to put together your own offering around the content of this programme, then we can help you with this including the supply of energy efficiency product.

    Once you have trained with us

    We will be providing an advanced HEA programme for clients, with the aim of making a significant impact on the energy efficiency of both the property and the householder’s fuel costs.

    What other avenues of work are available to me as a HEA?

    If you have existing or recent projects that you have worked on such as social housing EPC programmes, then your local authority or housing association client may require your services again.

    Remember that going forward there are anticipated to be a requirement for 5.5m home energy audits across the private and social housing sectors, with a targeted installation of 3.5m data readers, or a combination of the two.

    If you want to put together your own offering around the content of this programme, then we can help you with this including the supply of energy efficiency product.

    What about the Community Energy Advisor role?

    This is essentially a role with the Carbon Energy Savings Programme (CESP). It is a much smaller programme than CERT and is heavily driven through utilities; it is still unclear to us as to the real levels of work that will be available to advisors; we will keep you informed as this becomes clearer.

    We have tried to answer questions that are generic and of interest or concern to energy assessors; essentially our HEA training programme is really for pro-active assessors who have a commitment to both reducing carbon emissions and supporting us in our programmes to alleviate fuel poverty. If you have doubts about committing yourself any further to this industry, then perhaps you shouldn’t.

    We will not try to convince you to become a Housing Energy Advisor, please do not ask us to do so, do your research, look at our answers and decide if it’s for you.

    Is the ABBE qualification now released?
    We understand from ABBE that the ABBE qualification will be released on November 1st 2009. Our training begins 9th November 2009. If the qualification is not released by this time, we will still proceed with the training; our business commitments and the tenders that we are currently submitting to London local authorities mean we urgently need to expand our assessment team.

    Candidates will be able to complete the exam when it is available, but this will not prevent you undertaking HEA work, so long as you are competent in your understanding to do so.

    What is HEEP and what is the role of the HEA?
    HEEP is the acronym for the Home Energy Efficiency Programme, which is a delivery vehicle for the provision and installation of small energy measures including Housing Energy Advice (HEA); this takes the form of interviewing and understanding how the householder uses energy, and to encourage and advise on practical behavioural changes that the householder/s can undertake to reduce their energy use and consequently their fuel bills.
    A further key driver of the HEA is in combating the very serious problem of households in fuel poverty, in a climate of rising fuel prices.

    Selection of energy efficiency measures being installed on HEEP schemes:
    CFL / LED Light bulbs
    Block Gaps (floor / skirting) Mastic
    Radiator Panels
    Draught Proofing
    Tap Aerators
    Hot Water Tank Jacket
    Stand By Switch
    Energy Saving Shower Heads
    Housing Energy Advice

    Some of these measures are proving too expensive to deliver under current funding and themeasures are on probation in these early projects, and these measuresare:Block Gaps (floor / skirting) Mastic;draught-proofing at time of visit.Where these arerequired, CEA has an installation team that carries out these measures.Certain measures are funded under Carbon Energy Reductions Target (CERT).The HEA generally provides energy use Real-Time Data Readers and LEDlight-bulbs; depending on the project the HEA may be required to installother measures such as Radiator (heat reflector) Panels; the CEAinstallation team installs the other measures.
    Our HEA trainingcovers all of this information.

    (The HEA carries out an energy audit of the property, which includes the gathering of rdSAP data; from this information it can be determined if larger energy efficiency measures can be installed such as loft & cavity wall insulation; this is usually followed up by the scheme manager).

    CEA have produced an Energy Savings Action Plan (ESAP), which the HEA completes in agreement with the householder; this details some key changes that the householder can apply to both their property and how they use energy in the home. To compliment the ESAP we also provide information handouts in relation to effective use of domestic energy.

    In the case of our projects, CEA also calls the householder after 4-6 weeks of the visit to discuss the progress of the ESAP and to provide further encouragement; these calls are carried out by our energy advice team (this may not be the same procedure if you are working for other providers).

    Who will pay for the HEA visit?
    The current 10 HEEP demonstration schemes are being funded by local authorities.

    How long is the training?
    For qualified DEA’s/HI’s/NDEA’s the training is over 2 days.

    Will the fees be met by the Govt. via Learning Skills Council?
    We are not aware of any funding provision for the HEA, although this was put forward as a possibility in the earlier stages of the programme.

    My accreditation body advises me that the role of HEA has not yet been defined by the CLG therefore they were not able to offer a training programme, can you please clarify?
    Technical trials of Homes Energy Efficiency Programmes have already been completed and demonstration projects are now being launched; your accreditation body is not interested as there are no EPC lodgement fees for them, and no profit in training people.

    Are NOS available?
    Draft NOS are available and our training has been formulated on the ABBE NOS; we do not for-see any significant changes, but training will reflect any changes.

    When will the ABBE exam take place?
    It is understood that after the training course, candidates will need to return to a nominated exam centre to complete the exam.

    Is the HEA linked to the EPC?
    No, none of the current demonstration programmes include the requirement for EPC’s.

    Will you be providing any learning material prior to the course?
    We have a first class training programme, with copyright materials that only HEAs trained by us will have a license to use after the training course; these will not be issued before the course.

    Would you give me some information on the course content?
    The course covers some areas that you should be very familiar with such as building fabric and heating systems; this will act as an aide memoir re-confirming items such as heat loss percentages from building elements. More essential training will cover provision of practical energy advice, renewable technologies, solid wall insulation etc. and the completion of our Energy Action Savings Plan (ESAP) and the use of our handout materials.

    Please give me an idea of revenue/fees as a HEA?
    These are intensive programmes and there will be a requirement for HEAs to complete 5-7 property visits each working day; fees will vary depending on how much the HEA is required to do, but there will be a good minimum fee per provision of energy advice to each property, and we will provide this information to bone fide enquirers.

    Will accredited HEAs be over-subscribed?
    At (training provider name removed) we have always advised enquirers of the situation on the state of the oversupply of DEA’s, and we also warn of this on the front page of our website, and as it stands there is certainly no over subscription of HEAs.

    Two things:
    1. Housing Energy Advice is a natural progression for domestic energy assessors; it is a vital part of Govt.’s drive in the reduction of carbon emissions.
    2. 20% extra funding has been added to CERT, fuel poverty is a massive problem and getting worse, we believe HEA will become a very important driver in combating fuel poverty.
    Has a start date been agreed yet for HEA’s to begin?
    There are currently 10 demonstration projects in London boroughs; we will believe this will become a national programme.

    Will it be HEAs having to pay fees, landmark charges etc?
    No fees involved.

    Will you be providing specialist training for listed buildings and those in conservation areas?
    Our solid wall insulation will cover aspects of this, as there will be requirements for HEAs to operate in conservation areas.

    Is there any software required?

    I understand that there is an APEL route and that other qualifications will be considered as equivalent?
    City & Guilds 6176 is an alternative qualification that can qualify you as a HEA; the ABBE is a level 3 so is higher than the 6176, and is currently our preferred qualification.

    My accreditation body also told me that there are loads of people already qualified?
    The C&G 6176 has been around for some years and over this time people have become qualified in this; many of these people are from organisations providing housing advice, such as local authorities etc; most will not be involved in the HEA programme, and if they decided to do so, they would need to bring themselves up to date with areas such as renewable technologies.
    We will only be using ABBE qualified energy assessors who have undertaken the HEA training with us for our own programmes; there will be a requirement for well trained and well informed assessors, we are not interested in cursory knowledge and we will not provide work to HEA’s from any other training provider as we cannot be certain of the quality of training provision.

  12. Funny how the post above from the training provider is attacking the DEA accreditation schemes. I read today about one training provider who was having a go at another. What a joke that this one is saying that they dont offer the DEA training, i bet they did at some point and are now trying to make this a selling point to entice DEAs to vecome a HEA. Anyone who thinks this is the solution for those DEAs with no work is plain stupid. Again, the only winners will be training providers as with DEAs, NDEAs, new build EPCs, Air con etc etc. However, am afraid most DEAs are too stupod to see history repeating itself.

    The training provider is saying it will run courses before they have had agreement to do so, now where is the professional bodies to step in and challenge this, mmmmmmm nowwhere.

  13. Alyn Edwards Says:

    I have also received several similar emails and phone calls from numerous OPPORTUNISTIC CHARLATANS!!!

    I particularly like these two FAQs:

    “Are NOS available?
    Draft NOS are available and our training has been formulated on the ABBE NOS; we do not for-see any significant changes, but training will reflect any changes.”

    “When will the ABBE exam take place?
    It is understood that after the training course, candidates will need to return to a nominated exam centre to complete the exam.”

    Basically they are asking you to fork out £600 on driving lessons before the highway code, standards for driving instructors and requirements of the driving test have been written!

    Good luck with that one!

  14. Frederick Stickles Says:

    Hello just thought i would tell you something.. This is twice now i’ve landed on your blog in the last 3 days looking for completely unrelated things. Spooky or what?

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