Appendix 2: Surveyors Workshop Summary Report
Warmer Homes Scotland: Annual Review 2017
Surveyors Workshop (31 October 2017): Summary Report
The Warmer Homes Scotland Annual Review 2015-16 contained a recommendation to review the process by which Warmworks surveyors make recommendations to customers about what measures should be included in their installation and to identify potential reasons for why certain measures are not being recommended during the initial survey or being taken up by customers when they are recommended in their initial survey.
In response to this recommendation, as part of the 2016/17 Annual Review, a workshop with six of the Warmworks’ surveyors (including a member of management staff) was held on 31 October 2017, chaired by a member of the Review Team. The Agenda for this event can be found at the end of this summary report.
Warmworks advised that they met with the attending surveyors in advance of the workshop to familiarise themselves with the Agenda and to help inform discussions.
The workshop covered a variety of discussion topics, including:
- IT - software and hardware used by surveyors;
- training and guidance provided to surveyors;
- survey process;
- principles and attitudes of surveyors;
- customer attitudes and behaviour; and
- technical considerations.
Emerging Key Themes and Considerations
Throughout the discussions, a number of interlinked themes and considerations were identified:
There appears to be a commonly held attitude amongst surveyors that the “customer comes first” and that any recommendations they make for energy efficiency measures to be installed will always prioritise what is best for the customer. Surveyors are also very careful not to raise customer expectations during the recommendation process (e.g. customers are not privy to the full “measures available” list during the survey to avoid them becoming interested in measures that are inappropriate for their property type).
A process of education is seen as intrinsic to the surveyor’s role with the customer, particularly in terms of ensuring the customer understands the reasons why certain measures that they may be interested in are not being recommended for installation; or to encourage them to consider a measure being recommended that they would otherwise be uncertain of. Surveys are proactive in this process. For example, they are developing an information pack on “air source heat pumps” to be made directly available to customers. This is to help combat apprehension of the new technology.
All surveyors follow the principle of “fabric first”, which is fundamental to the operation of the scheme, and suggest that a “like-for-like” approach may be a preference for some of the installers but this is not endorsed by the surveyors. This reflects the mind-set shared by the surveyors that they will always seek to make recommendations that are “best” for the customer.
While training and guidance provided to surveyors is consistent and the supporting equipment used by surveyors is standardised, there is an element of subjectivity to all recommendations provided. This will depend on the surveyor and his or her own knowledge, awareness and judgement made on the day of a survey.
The behaviour and opinion of the customer is also recognised as an influencing factor. During the workshop surveyors suggested that they will take account of the reaction of the customer to a potential measure, and may change or make certain recommendations in response to this (e.g. surveyors may use discretion to not recommend an air source heat pump if they get the impression from the customer’s reaction that this concerns, or worries them).
Surveyors may provide additional comments to capture these sorts of situations in the “additional notes” section of the survey. Surveyors may also make notes indicating where further or alternative measures could be installed at a property, subject to certain activities being carried out or supporting measures being installed first. These notes are received by central Warmworks staff; however, it is not clear what process is in place to handle these comments once received and what follow up mechanism or actions are taken to address them in order to ensure the maximum benefit is being delivered to the customer based on the original survey conducted.
In some instances, surveyors do not feel able to recommend a comprehensive and complementary package of measures due to the higher installation costs this would incur for the customer. Surveyors felt that the financial constraint of existing grant levels is most particularly felt in rural areas due to the type of houses in those areas requiring measures that are more expensive because they are off the gas grid. Part of the challenge indicated was that previously surveyors would have referred customers on to the HEEPS: ABS programme to secure support for those measures that the Warmer Homes Scotland grant levels could not cover for. As this is no longer an option (i.e. customers who benefit from Warmer Homes Scotland are now not eligible for additional HEEPS programme support) the surveyors indicated that they do suggest customers consider Home Energy Scotland zero-interest loans but that this option is not always preferable for certain client demographics. Surveyors are often left having to make a choice in their recommendations between what measure will make the biggest impact to the customer. However, overall the surveyors think that the balance between grant levels and customer contribution requirements is appropriate, particularly for lower cost measures often recommended in the Central Belt area.
Where a customer rejects a specific recommendation (most commonly due to the cost implication), surveyors will always try to reassess the recommendations list taking a holistic approach to develop a package that represents the “best (value) offer” for the customer. However they make it clear that the mandatory measures are not optional and that the installation cannot proceed if these are not agreed to.
To convey affordability to the customer surveyors can carry out a calculation, using the customer’s current ‘actual fuel costs’, to indicate the overall cost of an installation package. In this context, surveyors are often very conscious of the customer’s likely response or perception of the recommendations made if, for example, the customer is elderly and the likely payback period for the install is over an extended period of time.
Alternative routes to securing installation of measures or assistance with the cost of enabling measures through the SSEN fund where available are also referred to, or recommended by surveyors in certain instances. This facilitates choice for the customer.
Having family members present at the time of the survey and recommendations process has also been found to be useful for some surveyors, who find that this opens up the opportunity for the customer to source any additional financial contributions necessary to accept a measure.
For Future Consideration - Gaps & Recommendations
Through discussions focusing on the topics and themes outlined above certain gaps in the current survey and provision model, and some recommendations for alternative or new approaches were identified by the surveyors as follows:
Current List of Available Measures - several of the measures available through Warmer Homes Scotland that were not being recommended by surveyors during Year 1 have been identified by the surveyors as only being appropriate within new build developments. This includes, for example, under-floor heating and mechanical ventilation and heat recovery, as well as air source heat pumps. In the case of the latter, surveyors emphasised that many customers are apprehensive of this technology due to it being unfamiliar and innovative (new); and that its reputation has not been helped by several instances of air source heat pumps being installed in properties through other funding mechanisms without also changing the radiators, leading to inefficient technology solutions. While this is anecdotal evidence it gives an insight into the challenges being faced by the surveyors when recommending low carbon fuel alternatives. A full overview of the reasons given by surveyors as to why certain measures are not being recommended, or recommended in very small numbers, is provided below:
|Measure||Property type measure is most suited to||Reason(s) why not recommended||Typical response of client||Any other comments|
|Hybrid wall insulation||e.g. solid brick with sandstone slip at front||Too much upheaval for the client.||Contribution costs unaffordable for client||3 have been installed|
|Solar blinds, shutters, shades||Passive Houses||There is no reason to fit these as surveyors are not trying to control temperature in people’s properties - this product is for passive houses.||Clients not interested||-|
|Flexible thermal linings||-||The property is already receiving installation of secondary glazing windows and doors.||Too much disruption/intrusive||-|
|Mechanical ventilation & heat recovery||New Builds||These are installed at new builds only and not suitable for retro fitting without major disruption and no energy savings.||Too much upheaval||-|
|Under-floor heating||New Builds||This is for new builds only and not retro fit. This measure would take 2-3 weeks to install and the customer would need decanted for this time - the disruption of having to lay two new floors would outweigh any energy savings to the property.||Too much upheaval||-|
|Warm air heating systems||-||Asbestos contained in these systems is high and there are other / more controllable, more energy efficient heating systems on the scheme.||Too much upheaval||-|
|Water efficient taps & showers||Any||Scottish Water water-saving gadgets and advice leaflets currently on going on this scheme.||-||-|
|Solar thermal||Property where there is space for larger hot water tank to be installed. Hot water tank required may not be compatible with existing instantaneous hot water appliances. This measure needs to suit the householder in terms of their hot water usage and lifestyle.||No Renewable Heat Incentive is available with this measure.||No payback incentive||9 have been installed|
|Solar PV||-||This measure does not work on this scheme as the customer gets no Feed-in Tariff ( FiT) payment - any savings are only relevant if the customer is in the property every day and can use the generated electricity.||No payback incentive||8 have been installed|
New Measures to be Made Available - specifically commenting on “flexible thermal linings” the surveyors indicated that this is a very intrusive measure (with aesthetic implications for the customer as well), but that if ordinary heavy curtains could be introduced as a measure to be recommended and funded under Warmer Homes Scotland this would be beneficial. A suggestion was made that Warmworks could work with a charity project to provide this measure at a low cost and link it to the Warmer Homes Scotland programme.
Deterrent against high carbon measures - surveyors seemed unaware that under the current Warmer Homes Scotland contract if a customer opts to have a less energy efficient or more carbon intensive measure installed instead of the recommended measure identified by the surveyor, this could be done under the scheme (as its key focus is fuel poverty and the more carbon intensive measures may reduce immediate costs more )but this would result in the customer incurring an additional £400 contribution. The lack of awareness suggests that this contract requirement needs to be highlighted to Warmworks to ensure the current programme management system in place flags this protocol more clearly to surveyors on the ground, and that this requirement is properly enforced. This contribution, if incurred, is passed directly to the Scottish Government by Warmworks.
Outcomes from the workshop suggest that the main reasons why some measures are not recommended, or only recommended on a small number of occasions, are that:
- the perception of the surveyors is that some of these measures are only suitable for new build properties;
- customer attitudes and perceptions of certain measures (particularly new, innovative and unfamiliar technologies) mean that a longer-term process of education around these measures is required;
- the additional cost of some measures would require greater contributions from customers, and surveyors take this into account before making their recommendations to focus on the measures that offer the customer the most benefit within the constraints of the grant levels; and
- the high costs of installation of some measures, which result in higher customer contributions, deters many customers from accepting some measures or the initial recommendations made.
Warmer Homes Scotland
Annual Review 2017
Tuesday 31 October
Welcome & Introduction
Introduction to Survey & Equipment Used
For the benefit of the Annual Review Team Surveyors
Discussion Topic 1:
IT, Training & Guidance
What software and equipment is used to conduct surveys, how do surveyors find this, what resources and other support is available to them, is it effective? Facilitators
Discussion Topic 2:
Survey Process & Non-Recommended Measures
How do surveyors actually conduct an assessment, what determines recommendations made, is there a lack of guidance or applicability criteria attached to some measures that prevents them being recommended? Facilitators
Discussion Topic 3:
Total Value of Installs
How do surveyors take into account the property type, ability to contribute, financial support level available (budget impacts) when making recommendations? Facilitators
Round Up: Open Floor
Incl. perceived “like for like” policy, surveyor attitudes, challenges, areas for improvement Facilitators