The Benefits of Double Glazing

As homeowners, we constantly seek ways to improve our living spaces, making them more comfortable, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly. One significant upgrade that offers these benefits is double glazing. In this post, we’ll explore what double glazing is, how it works, and why it’s an excellent investment for your home.

What is Double Glazing?

Double glazing involves the use of two panes of glass separated by a vacuum or gas-filled space to reduce heat transfer across a part of the building envelope. This design is a step up from traditional single-glazed windows, which consist of a single pane of glass.

How Does It Work?

The key to double glazing’s effectiveness lies in the space between the two panes of glass. This space acts as an insulating barrier. It can be filled with air or inert gases like argon or krypton, which are better insulators than air. The two glass panes also typically include a layer of coating that reflects heat back into the room, enhancing the insulation.

Benefits:

  1. Energy Efficiency: One of the primary benefits is improved energy efficiency. By reducing the amount of heat loss during winter and heat gain during summer, these windows can significantly lower energy bills.
    1. Noise Reduction: Double glazing offers excellent sound insulation. The two layers of glass and the vacuum or gas-filled space between them act as a barrier to noise, making it ideal for homes in busy areas.
    2. Reduced Condensation: Condensation can be a problem with single-glazed windows, leading to mould and mildew. Double glazing reduces condensation by maintaining a warmer interior glass surface.
    3. Increased Security: Double-glazed windows are tougher to break than single-glazed ones, offering an added layer of security to your home.
    4. Enhanced Property Value: Installing double-glazed windows can increase the value of your property, making it more attractive to potential buyers or renters.

Considerations When Choosing Double Glazing:

• Frame Materials: Frames for double-glazed windows come in various materials, including uPVC, aluminium, and wood. Each has its pros and cons in terms of durability, maintenance, and aesthetics.
• Glass Options: There are different types of glass, including low-emissivity (low-E) glass, which has a special coating to reflect heat.
• Cost vs. Return on Investment: While the initial cost can be significant, the long-term savings in energy bills and the added comfort and security make it a worthwhile investment.

Conclusion:

Double glazing is more than just a window upgrade; it’s an investment in comfort, efficiency, and security. By understanding the benefits and considerations when choosing double glazing, homeowners can make informed decisions that enhance their living spaces while also contributing to a more sustainable future.

Tips for Improving Your EPC Rating

What does an EPC assessor do in your home?

EPC Bromley Energy Report

EPC Demand

The demand for EPCs is increasing with landlords continuing to commission domestic energy assessors for the certificates in order to gauge the energy performances of their property portfolios.

On 1 April 2020, the MEES regulations are extended to cover all domestic properties with existing leases. This means that leases covering properties which are rated E or below will be invalid, regardless of whether they have already been deemed as compliant.

How Landlords can use an Energy Report

An Energy Report gives landlords information which is in many ways similar to an EPC. Landlords need to know the energy rating of their properties if they want to comply with MEES regulations and the Energy Report provides a cheaper way to do this. It will give them information on the energy rating before and after energy improvement measures are installed.

The Energy Report is easy to follow with any unnecessary clutter featuring on an EPC removed.

What Information does the Report Provide?

The information is presented in a way which is concise, making it easy to understand. It is generated using RdSAP methodology with the same calculations used by an EPC.

The following details are provided by the report.

  • Energy Rating – The current and potential energy rating of the property is prominently shown on the first page.
  • Recommendations – On page two there is a table with recommended measures. Each measure is shown with its cumulative ratings change. All of the measures would need to be installed in order for the property to reach its full potential rating.
  • Estimated Costs of the Property – The running costs of heating the space, lighting the property and heating the hot water are shown within a table. The estimated costs after improvements are installed are also shown.
  • Estimates CO2 Emissions – The current and potential CO2 emissions of the property are shown on a simple scale.
  • About the Document – Who compiled the report and a disclaimer related to the information contained within.
  • Data Inputs – Displaying the inputted measures and the assumed values used to compile the report.

Click on the links for further information on MEES, Energy Reports, or to book a survey.

Heating Control – Comfortable Home & Low Bills

Heating Control

It’s important to have an energy efficient boiler or alternative means of heating your home, but many don’t realise that it’s equally important to have a high quality heating controls in place too.

The greater control you have over your heating system the better you can stay in control of what you pay.

In the middle of winter it may seem like the right thing to do is to whack the thermostat up to 25°C and bask in the warmth. That’s all well and good but at the end of the month you’re going to pay for this extravagance.

It’s much better to be in control of your heating, set it to a comfortable level and have full say as to what temperature each room is set at.

If you had two identical homes with identical boilers and radiator systems, but one had a programmer, a room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) and one had no heating controls, the house with the controls would save around £75 a year.

Heating Control Types

Room Thermostat

Obviously allows you to set the temperature of a room, but its resulting function is actually to stop you burning more fuel than you actually require. As soon as a room reaches its desired temperature the room thermostat, in effect, turns off your heating.

It will then remain off until the temperature drops below your set level.

Always ensure that your thermostat is set to the lowest temperature you are comfortable with. In most cases and with most people this should be between 18°C and 21°C.

The key thing to remember is that you don’t have to turn your thermostat up and down depending on what the weather is like outside. Your house will heat up to your desired temperature regardless. The only difference is that in cold weather it may take a little longer as it is starting at a lower temperature.

Another key point is that your home will not heat up any faster if you turn the temperature on the thermostat up!

Ensure your thermostat is not behind a cupboard or curtain, it needs access to free flowing air. Also make sure it’s not situated next to a radiator or any other secondary heating sources.

TRVs

These have a very simple function, allowing you to adjust the heat of individual radiators in your home. They can save you money by allowing you to turn down the temperature in rooms that you aren’t using.

Never turn off TRVs completely. A cold room will effectively suck the warm air out of the rest of the house, like a heat sink, making it harder to heat the parts of the house you want heating. Ultimately it costs you more money.

Programmer

The time control for your heating system. This allows you to programme in your daily routine. Ensuring your heating isn’t on when no-one’s at home.

In order to ensure that the house is warm when you get out of bed, or when you come in from work, set the heating to come on half an hour early in each case.

In case of a change to your timetable, like being home from work unexpectedly, programmers will always have an override.

Don’t forget to check that the clock on your programmer is accurate, especially when the clocks go back and forward.

Smart Energy Controls

These are all the rage at the moment and seem to be well worth the investment. The most famous brands include Nest and Hive.

These controls are connected to the internet and can be accessed from your mobile phone wherever you happen to be. This allows you to adjust the temperature of your home remotely.

These controls also learn from your daily habits and programme in your daily routines automatically.

See other articles for ways to save money in your home, such as Hot Water Cylinder Insulation.

Energy Efficient Homes – Best & Worst Places in Britain

Energy Efficient

Everest, the company famed for double glazing, has recently compiled a survey of the best and worst areas in England and Wales in terms of energy efficient domestic properties.

They did this by analysing the Energy Performance Certificates of more than 15 million properties. Here are the results of that survey.

The Most Energy Efficient Places in England & Wales

Percentage shows how many properties are rated A or B overall.

  1. Tower Hamlets – London – 29.22%
  2. Greenwich – London – 19.92%
  3. City of London – London – 19.67%
  4. Dartford – Kent – 18.9%
  5. Hackney – London – 18.85%
  6. Uttlesford – Essex – 18.84%
  7. Basingstoke and Deane – Hampshire – 18.47%
  8. Cambridge – Cambridgeshire – 18.15%
  9. Milton Keynes – Buckinghamshire – 17.29%
  10. Southwark – London – 16.64%

The most striking thing to see from this list is the huge discrepancy between Tower Hamlets and the rest of the list. Most on the list have between 18% and 19% of their properties at an A or B level, whereas Tower Hamlets has nearly 30%.

This is due to huge investments being made by the local government here in order to ensure new build developments are as energy efficient as they could be.

The next thing to notice is that all of the top ten areas are in the south east, with half of them in the capital itself.

The Least Energy Efficient Places in England & Wales

Percentage shows how many properties are rated F or G overall.

  1. Isles of Scilly – Isles of Scilly – 35.34%
  2. Gwynedd – Gwynedd – 26.31%
  3. Ceredigion – Ceredigion – 24.33%
  4. Eden – Cumbria – 21.15%
  5. Isle of Anglesey – Isle of Anglesey – 20.70%
  6. West Somerset – Somerset – 20.54%
  7. West Devon – Devon – 19.33%
  8. Ryedale – North Yorkshire – 18.34%
  9. Cornwall – Cornwall – 18.30%
  10. Powys – Powys – 18.23%

As you’ll see, most of the places on this list are more remote and more exposed locations. Exposed locations won’t automatically make a difference to the EPC results, but exposed locations located on the west side of the country do have an issue.

The top three locations, Isles of Scilly, Gwynedd and Ceredigion fit into this category.

The reason being is that the western edge of Great Britain is exposed to wind and driving rain. This makes them unsuitable for cavity wall insulation, making wall insulation itself either impractical or too expensive.

Conclusions

This data shows just how effective an EPC or an Energy Report can be when it is being used to compare the energy efficiencies of properties around the country.

In this case the properties which are rated F or G will be paying, on average, three and a half times the amount to heat their homes that properties at an A or B level will be.

If you’re looking to improve the energy efficiency of your property, click here for some quick wins.

Is it worth improving your hot water cylinder insulation?

MEES 2019

The first stage of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) was introduced in April 2018. A year later, MEES 2019 has updated the previous conditions and landlords and letting agents need to be aware of the changes.

Main changes in MEES 2019

The main change for MEES 2019 means that from the 1 April this year, landlords have had to fund the installation of energy efficient measures in their properties themselves, in order to achieve minimum energy efficiency standards.

There is a spending cap, however of £3,500, including VAT, for overall improvement costs.

This means that the ‘no cost to landlord’ exemption set out in the Energy Efficiency Regulations 2015 no longer applies. Landlords are unable to use this exemption to prevent them making improvements to their property out of their own finances.

Third part funding may still be available in the form of Green Deal, Grants and ECO.  However if those things are not available, from 1 April 2019, landlords have had to fund the improvements themselves.

If any landlords registered their exemptions before the 1 April cut off then they will still see changes. MEES 2019 means that their exemption period is no longer set at five years. Instead all improvements need to be made by April 2020 at the latest.

Landlords not meeting these minimum standards could face a penalty of up to £5,000.

This change should now future proof these regulations. Landlords are required to fund property improvements themselves when funding is not available.  However  their liability is clearly capped.

What next?

The next update to MEES will come on 1 April 2020, The regulations will then state that MEES applies to ALL residential property that is privately rented.

This means that if a property requires a domestic EPC, it must reach a minimum ‘E’ standard before it can be rented out. This applies to all leases whether new or existing.

The EPC Certificate, how does it affect you?

Tips for Improving your EPC Rating

Improving your EPC

There are many reasons to try and get the highest possible score on your EPC. The first is to try and ensure that your house is as energy efficient as possible. An energy efficient house costs less to run, saving you a potential fortune on your heating bills.

The other reasons are in terms of actually needing to achieve certain ratings. If you’re a landlord then your property MUST achieve an ‘E’ rating before you can rent it out. If you are looking for a Feed in Tariff (FiT) when you install a renewable energy product, then your property must already be ‘D’ rated.

Here are five top tips for improving your EPC score.

  1. Insulation – The most important consideration can also be the cheapest too. Twenty five percent of a property’s heat is lost through its roof, luckily loft insulation is not only cheap, it is also one of the easiest things to install. Ensure you install it to a depth of 270mm (do not crush under boarding) in order to get the most benefit.Wall insulation is also crucial. Cavity wall insulation needs to be done by a professional company but it can be a relatively cheap process. Depending on government funding available to energy companies it can also be free.

    Solid wall insulation can be very expensive but can also be the number one saver for energy bills in older houses.

  2. Install renewable energy – If your home is suitable you should look into installing renewable energy. In almost all cases they will provide a large boost to your EPC score.Most people will think of solar panels when they imagine domestic renewables and Solar PV panels to supply electricity have been very popular. But you can also consider solar thermal panels for your hot water or biomass boilers or heat pumps to heat your home.

    When improving your EPC, if you want your property to achieve maximum score then you MUST have some renewable energy in place.

  3. Replace an old boiler – Heating makes up a large percentage of a household’s energy costs. If you have an old, inefficient boiler it will be reflected in your EPC score and, more importantly, it will be costing you more money than it should to heat your home.Look into getting an ‘A’ rated boiler and ensure that you have full control over the heating in your home. Also consider the installation of a room thermostat, a programmer and TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves.)
  4. Get double glazing – If you have old, thin, single glazed windows with wooden frames then you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that a significant portion of the heat from your home is being lost through them.Get double or triple glazing installed. If it’s too expensive or it’s not possible, secondary glazing can be just as effective.
  5. Replace your lightbulbs with LEDs – You can’t buy halogen bulbs anymore and there’s a good reason. Not only are they not energy efficient but they often only last a couple of years.Although replacing the bulbs will only have a small impact in improving your EPC and despite the fact that at first glance they seem expensive, when you learn that LED bulbs can last more than 20 years you realise that you’re actually going to save money.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like Biggest EPC Wins.

Biggest EPC Wins

I often get asked as to what is the biggest win when it comes to an Energy Performance Certificate. What improvements can I make to my property which will improve its energy efficiency the most?

This is especially relevant to landlords nowadays who are bound by the regulations set out by MEES. Before you rent out a property to tenants, landlords must ensure that the property has a rating on an EPC of at least an ‘E’.

Landlords enquire about double glazing or cheap solutions like replacing bulbs with low energy alternatives. In truth both of these are pretty small fry in terms of improvements.

Boilers

Generally people want to avoid expensive improvements such as replacing boilers. In truth if the property has a gas boiler, unless it’s a very old floor standing gas boiler with an open flue, a change to a more modern boiler is unlikely to make a massive difference.

On the other hand, if the property is heated by electricity then the heating system could make a huge difference. If the property is old or exposed and it is heated by electric radiant heaters then the rating is going to be poor. In this case the recommendation will always be to upgrade to high heat retention storage heaters or fan assisted storage heaters. The difference in ratings can be huge and drag an ‘F’ or ‘G’ property into ‘D’ or ‘E’ straight away.

Insulation

But what of properties that aren’t electrically heated? The answer is simple. The biggest gains can come from simply insulating the property properly.

Loft insulation

If the property doesn’t have any loft insulation then add some. Any can make a difference but the recommended amount is to a depth of 270mm. Not crushed under floorboards. Putting boards on top of insulation makes it as effective as the depth it is crushed to.

This is a cheap and simple way to dramatically increase rating. It’s also an easy DIY job.

Wall insulation

The other vital insulation consideration is walls. This is especially important in pre 1930s houses with solid walls. This can be very expensive but is always very effective.

For houses with cavity walls it is a much simpler and cheaper solution but also very effective and can produce a significant difference to your EPC rating.

If you require a Landlord Report or any other services, please feel free to contact us at any time.

If you require an EPC in any the following areas, please click on the links.

Weird EPC Experiences

Working as I do in other people’s houses and properties I come across things that are a little strange. Sometimes they are one off occurrences, sometimes they form part of a theme. Here are some weird EPC experiences that I’ve had in my seven years of being a domestic energy assessor.

Indoor botanicals

It’s an unfortunate truth that I have to do surveys in properties that are in probate. In other words the previous tenants have passed away. Some have been stripped bare but others are still fully furnished and left as if someone has just popped out to the shops.

In 100% of probate cases (this is NOT an exaggeration in my experience) someone has always been in and taken the TV, whether the house is empty or the rest of the furniture is still there.

I remember one house where the chap who lived there had recently died after living alone for many years. I walked into the dining room to find that it was unusually dark for the middle of the day. I discovered that this was because patio weeds (your run of the mill weeds that grow in between paving slabs) had grown so high they had gone past the height of the patio doors, blocking out all of the light.

This wasn’t the oddest thing. In the kitchen one of the trees from the back garden had a branch which had broken the kitchen window. Not only that, the branch was growing (and had been for many years) across the kitchen ceiling, sprouting new branches in some cases and venturing into cupboards.

Very sad that he had no-one to take care of it for him.

Take that

It’s the nature of the job that I have to go into a lot of places that are unoccupied. It can be quite spooky, especially in older places which naturally creak and groan as you wander about.

I was once in a flat that I knew the occupants were out at work for the day. As I would normally do, I opened up all of the doors to get an idea of the layout of the property before commencing with my floor plans.

The last door was to the kitchen. I opened it up and stepped in. I shouted (screamed if I’m honest.) A man was running towards me from the other end of the kitchen. I ducked down and backed out, slamming the door behind me quickly, heart beating hard.

Nothing happened, all was quiet on the other side of the door. No footsteps, no shouting. I called, “Hello”, my voice shaking.

I slowly turned the handle and glanced in. I had another initial shock and my heart leapt back into my throat as I glimpsed the man still running towards me, but in exactly the same position as before.

I took another look.

It was a life-size cardboard cut out of Robbie Williams.

Droppings

Yes, of course some house’s pet rules aren’t as strict as others, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the animals that aren’t pets. Those that scurry, scratch and occasionally flap. The unintended occupants of properties that most official occupants aren’t even aware of.

In the most cases you can find these in cellars and lofts, the evidence of them at least.

I went into one property where I was warned that they used to have mice and rats in the loft. When I tried to lift the fairly innocuous looking loft hatch I found that it weighed a ton. I eventually managed to heave it up. When I glanced around in the loft I found that the entire place was covered in at least 3 inches of rat or mice droppings. So solid, you could walk on it.

Still that was better than the 200 year old property where I was warned there could be bats in the loft. When I opened the hatch, splat. Face full of bat poo.

Night night

This one has happened on numerous occasions. People staying in bed whilst I work around them. A few of them are teenagers where their parents have answered the door and they simply refuse to get out of bed. This is fair enough, it is only 2pm after all…

However, on occasion, it’s the grown ups who surprise. On multiple occasions I have had the door opened before the occupants have climbed back into bed.

One time a lady answered the door before climbing back under the covers. When I went into the bedroom to measure up, her and her partner were both fast asleep. It was a strange shaped room where I had to stretch across the pair of them in order to plant my laser measure. At one point my face was a few inches from the man’s face, and I wasn’t sure if he knew I was even there.

Could have been awkward if he’d woken up.

Shadow

I do have people who insist on following me into every room and every outside area as I work. I don’t entirely blame them. I am fully accredited, insured and criminal record checked in order to do the EPCs, but I am still a stranger wandering round their house and their precious possessions.

One particular elderly gentleman did this to me in a small terraced house with a ridiculously steep staircase. He followed me into every room, going up and down the stairs.

I do the assessment in a particular order which means that I don’t do things room by room. I could come into a room multiple times for multiple reasons and I could be up and down the stairs numerous times over the course of a survey.

This poor old chap had diligently followed me up and down the stairs at least five times during the survey and even came halfway up the ladder as I went into his loft.

It was only after I’d finished and was saying goodbye that I noticed the framed picture in the hallway. It was a framed letter to him from the Queen. The shattered fella in front of me was at least a century old!

These are some of my weird EPC experiences. Let me know if you’ve had any?!

If you require an EPC or any of our other services, please click on the links above.

If you need an EPC in any of these areas, please click on the link.

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Hot Water Cylinder Insulation

Hot Water Cylinder Insulation

Improving the Energy Efficiency of your Hot Water

There’s not a huge amount of difference between a hot water cylinder and a kettle. A hot water element is inserted into a large cylinder which heats and then stores water.  However, it is not necessary to insulate a kettle, but hot water cylinder insulation is essential.

It costs money to heat hot water and (especially if you’re using electricity to heat it) and it will start to lose heat very quickly once heated. Think how quickly the water in your kettle drops from being 100℃ to cool enough to touch. Hot water cylinder insulation is crucial to energy efficiency which in turn leads to financial and environmental savings.

It is also a question of convenience. If hot water is stored effectively it is also available instantaneously as opposed to having to be heated up as required.

All modern cylinders are now supplied with 50mm thick factory fitted foam which is sufficient to sustain hot water temperature. Slightly older cylinders will have foam fitted on the outside at 38mm but even these may need to be improved. The foam wears away and the cut outs for pipework can expose the copper cylinder.

Older cylinders may have no insulation fitted at all. If your cylinder has no or insufficient insulation fitted then it will need to be upgraded. This is simple to do and makes use of a purpose made ‘jacket’ which wraps around the cylinder. The depth of the insulation is normally at 80mm. The cost can be as low as £15 but its addition could save you up to £80 a year in heating costs.

When improving your hot water cylinder insulation it is also worth insulating the pipes around it. The sections that are next to the tank can also lose a lot of heat and are again very easy to insulate.

Hot water cylinder insulation will provide instant improvement in your EPC results.  If you require an EPC or any of our other services, check out the menu above for details of our prices.

Energy Performance Certificates – What Does an Assessor do in Your House?

EPC Bromley

You know what an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is, but what exactly does an assessor do when they visit your house?  If you call EPC Bromley to arrange an domestic energy assessment then what can you expect when they visit?

Have a look below for a summary of the items that EPC Bromley will consider during the assessment for your EPC.

House Age and Build Type

Working out the year that the house and any extensions were built will tell us what the building regulations were at that time and therefore how energy efficient the house is in general.  A house built in 1930 would have had no insulation fitted to the walls as a regulation, this is not the case with a house built in 2010.

The build type (detached, terrace, flat) tells us where the heat may be escaping from.  A detached house generally has at least four cold walls whereas a semi will have one shared wall which is warm.  A flat could be heated from all sides and have a communal corridor area which is heated too.

Dimensions

Quite simply we measure the volume of your property.  We need to know the amount of space you have to heat before we make a judgement on how you heat it.  We’ll also consider whether you have a conservatory. 

If your conservatory has an outside door sealing it off then it is discounted, if it is open plan then it is included and considered a source where heat can escape more easily.

Walls

Wall types are generally solid, cavity or timber framed and are as efficient as the regulations in place when they were built.  Traditionally, solid walls without insulation were used on houses until well into the 1930s, this kind of wall is very inefficient. 

If it is a cavity wall then we check whether the cavity has been filled with insulation retrospectively, as originally cavity walls were not filled.

Roofs

We poke our head into the loft and see whether it is insulated, if it has then how deep is it?  Traditional insulation at the joists should be at least 270 mm deep.  Remember, if you crush it down with floorboards to 100 mm then it is only 100 mm effective.

Floors

Are they solid or suspended floorboards, has it been insulated or do you have another dwelling below you?

Openings

We consider how many doors you have and whether those doors are insulated.  We look at how much glazing you have and whether it is single, double or triple glazed.  If it’s double glazed we consider what year it was installed, double glazing installed from 2002 onwards is much more efficient than glazing fitted before then.

If it was fitted before 2002 then we consider the frame type (metal, pic or wood) and the gap between the panes of glass.

We also look at how much draught proofing is in place.

Ventilation & Lighting

We look at how many fireplaces the property has and whether these are open, we also look for any mechanical ventilation or cooling systems that are in place.

We count the amount of light fittings and at the same time we count how many of these have low energy bulbs in place.

Heating Systems

How do you heat your home?  If you use a traditional boiler then we consider how efficient that boiler is.  Modern condensing boilers get the highest efficiency scores.

We consider how the heat is distributed (radiators, underfloor) and how that heat is controlled.  Properties that have a room thermostat, thermostatic radiator valves and a heating timer will score  highest.

If your property has more than one heating system then this is also considered as well as any secondary heaters such as a gas or electric fires in the reception rooms.

Water

How do you heat your water?  Do you have a combination boiler or a hot water cylinder?  If it’s a cylinder then how large is it?  Is it insulated?  Does it have a thermostat?  We then consider how many bath/shower rooms are in the property, how many of these have baths, showers or both?

We also look at other options for water heating which may be in place.  These include solar water heating, waster water heat recovery systems (WWHRS) and flue gas heat recovery systems (FGHRS).

New Technologies

We investigate if you have any other new technologies in place like solar photovoltaic panels or a wind turbine.  The terrain you live in is considered(urban, suburban, rural) which determines whether a wind turbine would be suitable.

Checks are made at this point to see what type of electricity meter the property is has (dual or single charge).   If the house isn’t heated by a gas boiler, we see whether there is a gas meter indicating it would be an option.

Any other info

Here’s where you can note whether the property has a swimming pool or  uses a more obscure way to heat itself.  For example micro CHP or a biofuel that isn’t listed in the usual database.

If you don’t understand some of these points, feel free to get in touch with EPC Bromley and ask.  Otherwise your EPC Bromley assessor will be happy to answer any questions you may have whilst the survey is taking place.