HEA RIP, or rising HEMS?
I’ve been very critical of the way the Home Energy Advisor role was undermined before it ever saw the light of day.
Back in late 2007 when the idea first emerged, the HEA was to be an evolution of the DEA role. Extra knowledge and skills were considered necessary to better equip DEA to provide face-to-face advice to homeowner - in particular those who weren’t planning to move home, but wanted to reduce the energy wasted within their home. An excellent idea.
Then things started to go wrong and seemed to keep going wrong.
Most problems start with money and that was the case for HEA. With the price an energy company might pay for a Home Energy Audit looking to be about the same as a portion of fish and chips, the original bright idea was dimming fast.
One immediate impact was that the idea of the upgraded qualification suffered a serious reality check. If the value of the service one can provide is minimal, then the cost of training needs to be miniscule too.
This led to the knowledge-only qualification that ABBE recently introduced.
We have consistently expressed reservations about the opportunities for DEA of qualifying as an HEA. But there was always the possibility that opportunities might arise. And in any case, the knowledge requirements of the ABBE qualification made for good and relevant CPD for DEA, so we produced our online modules.
With the announcement by ABBE a few days ago of the first few exam dates, everything seemed to be moving along. If not as we might have liked, at least things were moving in a known direction.
Then CLG sent out a letter clarifying the qualification requirements for Home Energy Advisors and the world get very confusing again.
In summary, a Home Energy Advisor is someone who holds a qualification that doesn’t exist.
As an interim measure, individuals who hold the City & Guilds 6176 qualification or the 6049-03 NVQ are allowed to be employed as Home Energy Advisors, but this is just a temporary measure.
This immediately raises concerns for all those who purchased training designed to meet the requirements of the new ABBE qualification. Whilst the qualification will presumably still proceed, gaining it will apparently not enable you to be employed as a Home Energy Advisor on CERT or CESP funded projects.
It remains the case that the knowledge gained from the training is useful and would certainly count as valuable CPD for anyone taking it. But clearly, the circumstances have changed. For that reason, anyone who has purchased the relevant online training modules from us will have the option of a full refund. We will continue to offer the modules as useful CPD, but we want buyers to be clear about what is going on.
Whilst all of this certainly seems to have more than a touch of the Marx Brothers to it, there may be reason for optimism in the apparent madness.
CLG refer to the planned publication of the Household Energy Management Strategy (HEMS), which they say will be published on Tuesday 2nd March. Apparently the Strategy will contain "Further information on the emerging role of HEAs and the qualifications they will need".
Could this mean that the initial idea of what a Home Energy Advisor should be is being revived and the question of how to fund a worthwhile Home Energy Audit service has been addressed?
If that were the case I could quite understand why CLG might not want to see those holding the knowledge only qualification being regarded as Home Energy Advisors.
I’ll confess that I have my Pollyanna moments and this might indeed be one of them. But rather than mourning the apparent demise of the ABBE qualification, I looking forward to the arrival of spring and rising HEMS.