DPE

Diagnostic Performance Energetique

by John Marshall FRICS MRAC

This report has been required since the 15th September 2006 and its purpose is to enable you to compare the cost of heating and cooling the house that you are buying or renting with other properties. I find this mildly amusing as you are unlikely to see it until you are sitting in front of the Notaire about to sign the contract.

You may have seen on new domestic appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators a large letter that gives you a guide to the amount of energy that the appliance will consume. This report similarly grades a house in respect of consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from A (least) to G (most).

The calculations are based upon the size of the property, the insulation quality and the methods used for heating and cooling. The figures are based upon standard consumptions and emissions by a standard occupancy heating and cooling to a standard level. Prices are also attributed to the calculated standard cost of energy to be consumed based upon a Government prescribed average. At the time of writing in January 2007 the standard cost of energy was set in August 2006.

The report will give separate costs for space heating, water heating, air conditioning (if applicable) and a total cost for the property that is not a sum of the others because it also includes the standing charges or abonnements charged for example by EDF. The purpose of giving you these costs is not to tell you how much you will spend each year (because you are most likely not standard or average), the purpose is to give you a guide so that you can compare properties on a like for like basis.

The report will also state if there is any equipment in the property that supplies renewable energy such as a wind turbine or solar panels.

There is of course another important reason for the report, and that is to encourage you to make improvements to the heating/cooling systems and insulation values of the property to reduce your future expenditure. That is good for you, good for the planet and good for the French Government as it shows that they are fighting the battle against global warming.

These reports are prepared by “experts” who belong to one of many different professional bodies. The format of the report will therefore vary from expert to expert. I have seen reports that are succinct to say the least and those that go into great detail not only suggest improvements that can be made to reduce the energy consumption but also give guides on pay back periods. The pay back period is the time taken to recoup the cost of the improvement by savings made on energy consumption.

Some reports may even give you the “10 Commandments for Good Energy Use”, but if yours doesn’t or if you want to know more there are two Government websites that provide a lot of information and are very helpful. They are www.ademe.fr which is in English & French, and www.logement.equipement.gouv.fr which is in French only, but it contains information on grants and interest free loans!

Sadly I don’t think that you can tap into the subterranean lava of a volcano to heat your home, but I am sure that if there is one nearby it will be long dormant and why not consider geo-thermal heating – no volcanoes necessary!

John Marshall has practised throughout Europe and particularly in France since 1984. He has lived on the borders of the Aude and Pyrénées Orientales since 2002. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors registered with RICS France and is amongst other things a member of their Building Surveying Faculty and Building Conservation Form. He is also a Chartered Environmentalist, a consultant surveyor to the Channel 4 programme, Selling Houses Abroad and a member of the Fédération Nationale des Experts de la Construction et l’Immobilier.

Contact him

by telephone               +33 (0) 4 68 20 26 48
by email                      johnmarshallsurveys@wanadoo.fr

© John Marshall 2007

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