‘No sense’ to exempt old stone homes from EU energy rules, says MEP

But couple blame ‘absurdly low’ energy rating for buyers pulling out of French farmhouse sale

Exempting character stone homes and those made with other traditional materials from new EU proposals to improve energy efficiency would “not make sense”, the MEP in charge of the plans told The Connexion.

One couple from south-west France reported that an “absurd” low ‘G’ energy-efficiency (DPE) rating for their centuries-old stone farmhouse is the likely cause of two buyers pulling out.

Irish MEP against general exemptions

However, according to Irish MEP Ciarán Cuffe a general exemption for such homes would “leave households locked into expensive [to heat] buildings.”

In any case, he said, some of the homes might already be found to be well-insulated via their traditional materials.

In other cases, an exemption would “condemn households that live in poor buildings to high energy bills and potential energy poverty” and “exclusion from the benefits of efficient, warm homes.”

Read more: Old rural homes should be exempt from EU energy plan says French group

Aid and support rather than fines

A new energy directive aims to have all homes renovated to the highest efficiency ratings by mid-century, including eradicating ‘F’ and ‘G’-rated properties by 2030.

Owners would be expected to get properties up to a better rating for renting out or selling, or when undergoing extensive renovations.

MEPs, however, do not favour obligatory fines for non-compliance, said Mr Cuffe – though individual countries could opt for them – but, rather, aid and support.

Exemptions were proposed for ‘historic’ homes and, if states wish it, a certain percentage of the worst-performing ones.

Read more: 10 questions about France’s new energy audits for homes

Farmhouse poor rating is not full picture

Such plans could in future put extra pressure on sellers such as Terry and Margaret Scates.

They blame their Dordogne farmhouse’s ‘G’ rating for buyers pulling out after signing the pre-sale compromis de vente, when DPE energy information is provided.

They say their house is cheap to heat and cool in the summer but the very poor rating they were given does not reflect this and had not measured real heat loss.

“The walls are 1.4m thick and there is so much insulation in the loft that you can hardly see the woodwork,” Mr Scates said.

That was ignored, however, as they could not produce bills for its installation, he said.

Heritage group Maisons Pay­sannes de France for Dordogne has said owners of rural homes could suffer, as approved forms of energy renovation can detract from their character.

It says traditional materials are often not accounted for in the software used for the ratings.

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