Domestic energy assessors (DEAs) test the energy efficiency of homes and suggest how it can be improved. This is a new role, created by the need for homeowners to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) whenever a property is built or put on the market in England and Wales.

The main duties of a DEA are to:

  • inspect properties to collect information on their age, number of storeys, building type, heating and hot water systems
  • identify corridors, windows and the number of fireplaces
  • enter the information into a computer software programme, which will produce an energy efficiency rating and an EPC
  • explain efficiency ratings to homeowners, giving practical advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of their home.

The EPC is made up of two parts. The first is a summary of the property’s energy efficiency and its impact on the environment. The second part lists practical steps for saving on energy bills and reducing carbon emissions. The EPC uses colour bar charts, similar to those used on new fridges and freezers, to show the property’s energy efficiency on a scale of A (best) to G (worst).

The EPC is a compulsory part of the Home Information Pack (HIP), which will be a legal requirement from the start of June 2007.

Hours and Environment

As a DEA you could choose to work full-time or part-time. You may need to carry out inspections in the evenings or at weekends to suit your clients. If you are self-employed as a DEA you will be able to arrange your working hours according to your workload.

You will normally need a driving licence as the job will involve travelling to different locations to carry out inspections.

Skills and Interests

To become a DEA you will need:

  • an understanding of the new laws surrounding the role
  • IT skills for using computer software to produce the EPC
  • the ability to explain the contents of the EPC clearly to clients
  • the ability to make good working relationships with a wide range of people
  • good observational skills
  • the ability to take accurate measurements
  • good time management skills
  • a thorough, methodical and consistent approach
  • the ability to keep legible, complete and accurate records
  • knowledge of methods of construction, construction materials and heating systems.

Entry

To qualify as a DEA you will need the Level 3 Diploma in Domestic Energy Assessment (Dip DEA). This involves completing at least five assessed EPCs and taking a multiple choice exam.

The amount of training you need before taking the diploma will depend on the skills you already have. If you have experience in a related field, for example in property surveying, construction or sales, you will need less training than if you are new to this type of work. To get an idea of the amount of training you are likely to need to achieve the Dip DEA, you can read the National Occupational Standards for DEAs on the Asset Skills Energy Assessors website.

The Dip DEA is provided by three awarding bodies:

  • The Awarding Body for the Built Environment (ABBE)
  • City and Guilds
  • The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

The awarding bodies will advise you on finding training relevant to your needs. Many colleges and private training providers also offer, or are planning to offer, relevant training. If you work for a large construction or property company you may also be able to do in-house training.

As an alternative to the Dip DEA, you could take the Diploma in Home Inspection (DipHI). The DipHI will qualify you as a home inspector and enable you to produce Home Condition Reports (HCRs) as well as EPCs. See the separate Home Inspector profile for information on this role.

Training

Once you have completed your ‘classroom-based’ training, you will need to gain practical experience. Some training providers may organise this, or you may be able to get experience by:

  • approaching the relevant organisations to see if they will offer you some work shadowing
  • asking your current employer, if you are involved in a related field such as estate agency, construction or housing.

Before you can work as a DEA you will need to join an approved accreditation body. This will involve:

  • a criminal record check
  • a check that your qualifications are valid
  • maintaining the right professional indemnity insurance (check with the awarding body)
  • keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date through continuing professional development (CPD).

The organisations approved to run certification schemes are:

Opportunities

Homes are responsible for 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions, so improving the efficiency of how they are heated and lit is a top priority.

An estimated 2,000 to 2,500 DEAs will be needed from 1 June 2007. The number of opportunities is expected to grow when energy certificates become compulsory for rented property in 2008, and further still when EPCs become mandatory for commercial buildings.

Potential employers include:

  • HIP providers
  • solicitors
  • panels acting as agents and taking a cut of fees
  • estate agents
  • surveyors and valuers
  • energy retailers.

When you have qualified as a DEA you will have the opportunity to gain a ‘top up’ qualification to become a home inspector. You could also take the ABBE Level 4 Certificate in Valuation of Residential Property for Secured Lending. See the Home Inspector profile and the ABBE website (in Further Information) for furhter details.

Annual Income

As this is a new role, there are no available figures for salaries.

Charges for EPCs will depend on the type and size of property. For an average property the cost could be between £90 and £150.