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Putting electrical safety at the heart of net zero homes

With almost three-quarters of fires in Scotland’s homes caused by electricity, our guest columnist explains why mandatory home ‘MOTs’ are vital to help reduce risk and protect everyone as the electrification of society continues

Safe delivery is vital for electric vehicle charging points at drivers' homes

Our charity has long campaigned for all Scottish homes to have regular electrical checks, verified by an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR). These checks are similar to an MOT you have for your car, and they can reveal dangers in the home that would otherwise be undetected. 

While these checks are now required in Scotland’s private and social rented sectors – and for the licensing of short-term lets – there is no such protection for owner-occupiers. This group live in 60% of Scotland’s housing stock, with a tendency to own older properties where, inevitably, electrical installations will deteriorate with age. 

It is worrying that our own research shows potentially up to 43% of Scottish homeowners have either never had an electrical inspection of their home or are unaware if it has ever been checked by an electrician. Such a lack of essential maintenance increases the electrical risk and can have financial – and potentially dangerous – consequences for home buyers. 

Within the private rental sector across the whole of the UK, mandatory electrical safety inspections have been quietly but steadily increasing over the past few years – a requirement in Scotland since 2015, new legislation in 2020 brought them in for England, and Wales followed suit in 2022. 

But these regulatory measures have also highlighted a need for greater clarity from industry on what should be included in an EICR, how to carry one out thoroughly, and how to report properly on any defects found.

Consistency and transparency

Electrical Safety First’s recently-launched Best Practice Guide 10: Electrical safety standards in the private rented sector provides consistency and transparency for electricians and all those involved in renting or owning property in understanding what inspection and testing is required, and how to produce a detailed report. 

Any inconsistency in reporting can create confusion for those reading the report and may lead to safety risks being reported incorrectly or ignored. 

Checks are essential in an electric future

As an EICR could cover lots of areas, it is vital for electricians to establish and agree with whoever is ordering the work what’s to be included and what isn’t included in the electrical safety check, and an agreed understanding on the minimum standard to expect from an EICR. A properly conducted EICR is a vitally important process in assessing risk, determining the safety of someone’s home, and helping to protect people from danger. The information in the report is critical to identifying and rectifying any known issues while also developing safety measures to mitigate risk or danger, especially in advance of any remedial work.

Our guidance is the result of collaboration and agreement between many leading industry bodies and organisations – including SELECT – and it has also had input from several industry bodies, government departments and letting agents.

But we are also aware this is just the beginning of a long journey. Much more needs to be done, especially in helping ensure the electrical industry has the necessary skills and resources to deliver the increased demand for EICRs.

Supporting the industry’s future

As part of that work to help improve awareness and standards, we are proud to be hosting our first Installation Seminar on 23 April exploring the key issues and trends impacting the future development and professionalisation of the electrical industry.

Held at the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) in London with the theme of ‘Switch on to the big issues’, this free-to-attend half-day event will feature a range of engaging presentations, panel discussions and fireside chats with speakers drawn from industry, manufacturing and government.

Topics covered will include how to grow the installer base by attracting new talent and upskilling existing workers, how to improve the quality and consistency of EICRs, solar PV safety, legacy residual current devices (RCDs), modern electrical and electronic equipment, battery storage systems, prosumer installations, the consequences of ageing distribution networks, and product safety.

It is vitally important to ensure all these issues are fully explored to ensure the safe delivery of net zero future homes because the adoption of new technologies such as heat pumps, solar PVs, and electric vehicle home-chargers place additional – and often new – demands on domestic electrical installations. 

The simple truth is that we need to build up the knowledge to support a comprehensive understanding of retrofit preparedness. Making electrical safety checks mandatory across all housing sectors helps protect everyone as we head into an all-electric future.


Guide provides the best advice

Best Practice Guide 10: Electrical safety standards in the private rented sector, is the latest in a series of ten guides offering free expert advice and information on technical issues involved in electrical installation work.  

Produced by Electrical Safety First in association with leading industry bodies, including SELECT, the ten downloadable guides support the work of designers, installers, verifiers, and inspectors of domestic electrical installations. 

View and download all the guides by going to 


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