IMPLEMENTATION of the European Directive on the energy performance of buildings laying down minimum performance on new and existing buildings will begin within the next six months.

On Thursday, Parliament passed the Directive into law after the European Commission sent final warnings to Cyprus, along with Greece, Hungary, Malta and Sweden in June for failure to notify national measures for reducing energy consumption.

The energy performance of a building will have to be reflected on an energy certificate, which is basically a label for a building, in some ways similar to the label on household appliances.

However, the certificate for a building is more elaborate, and will be accompanied by solid advice on how to improve the energy performance of an existing building and what the investment costs and the payback time on the investment is likely to be.

Stephania Tsangaridou of the Cyprus Institute of Energy, yesterday told the Mail that, “all new buildings will now have to meet minimum energy requirements before they can be issued with building permits. This will be in the form of thermal insulation and window shading among other things.”

She added that the minimum energy requirements will also apply to buildings over 1,000 square metres in size undergoing major renovation.

“Over the course of the next six months, architects along with civil, electrical and mechanical engineers will be given training so they can familiarise themselves with national methodology which will be used to establish minimum requirements,” Tsangaridou explained. She added that special software has been created which will be able to measure whether a building meets the requirements.

Within the next three years, certification will be required for all buildings built, sold and rented out. Regular maintenance and inspection of boilers, heating systems and air conditioning will also be made compulsory.

Environment Commissioner Charalambos Theopemptou has issued guidelines to the public on how to minimise energy losses during the coming winter.

“Maintenance of the central heating system should be undertaken every year,” he said, stressing the importance of a good thermostat. “In Cyprus, thermostats are designed for an average of 22 degrees Celsius. People should aim to keep the temperature inside their home as low as comfortably possible, as increasing the temperature by one degree will mean a ten per cent rise in the cost of heating oil. It’s very important to have a modern and so-called intelligent thermostat, which manufacturers claim can lead to savings of up to 20 per cent. They judge the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature before deciding when to start the heating process.”

He also spoke about wastage. “A 25-year-old heating system will actually waste 50 per cent of oil, while a modern system wastes between eight and ten per cent. Considering the fact that the average household needs to spend around £600 per winter on heating, it makes sense to replace old boilers, as the extra money spent will be recouped within three years. People are wasting a lot of money without realising it.”

He advised people to invest in thick curtains, “which make a huge difference in keeping heat inside the home,” and to install draught blockers on windows and doors.

Regarding fireplaces not in use, “block off the chimney with a glass screen,” he said.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2006

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