what work, what help? We answered your questions

Danyel Dubreuil and Isabelle Gasquet, both energy efficiency experts at CLER-Réseau for the energy transition, responded to franceinfo listeners.


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Workers work on an exterior insulation site for an individual residential house.  They install polystyrene plate insulating panels, in Valence (Drôme), September 6, 2023. (NICOLAS GUYONNET / HANS LUCAS)

Thermal renovation of buildings: what work to undertake? How to benefit from aid? While the envelope allocated to MaPrimeRenov’ is reduced, and a new DPE (energy performance diagnosis) is announced, “L’Empreinte Carbon(n)e” gave you the floor, Wednesday February 28 on franceinfo. How to navigate these changes? What renovations are you planning to improve the insulation of your home? Here is a summary of your questions, and the answers from Danyel Dubreuil and Isabelle Gasquet, both energy efficiency experts at CLER-Réseau for the energy transition.

How to get good advice before starting thermal renovation work?

You must first carry out a diagnosis of the state of your home, energy performance diagnosis (EPD) or thermal audit. This is a mandatory step to request MaPrimeRenov’ assistance. “Today, the energy performance diagnosis (DPE) must be accompanied by a recommendation for work”, explains Danyel Dubreuil, coordinator of Rénovons, energy efficiency expert at CLER-Réseau for the energy transition. The assessor must lay the first milestones and give advice on possible elements of improvement for the home.

To go further, it is also possible to carry out a thermal audit. This audit is carried out by specialized technicians who can be obtained from design offices. With the DPE and a thermal audit, we obtain “a complete and detailed view, with precise advice for improvement which will allow interventions to be carried out which will be good for housing, good for energy bills and good for the comfort of residents.”

In all cases, the first step is to contact France Rénov’, the public home renovation service managed by the National Housing Agency (Anah). Its advisors will direct you between MaPrimeRénov’ (to change the heating or hot water system), MaPrimeRénov’ Accompanied journey (for more significant renovations) and MaPrimeRénov’ Copropriété (for work on the common areas of a condominium or on some of the private areas: see below).

“Support is very important, because we are not technicians or thermal engineers, we need to be advised by specialists”, recalls Danyel Dubreuil. Since January 1, 2024, MonAccompagnateurRénov’ has been mandatory for renovations financed with MaPrimeRénov’ and Loc’Avantages Travaux. This is a professional responsible for assisting individuals in their energy renovation project.

Heating system, window, roof… where to start?

Before incurring any expense or imagining any project, the experts point out the need to seek good advice, in particular by contacting France Rénov advisors. There is a certain logic to follow to achieve better energy performance. “This is why we do not recommend an isolated action, but rather a course of work to be carried out which includes, for example, two ‘gestures’ of insulation”describes Isabelle Gasquet, energy efficiency project manager at CLER-Réseau. The idea being to first work on the total consumption of the building (insulation and ventilation) then to tackle the openings and the adapted heating systems.

Experts therefore warn that changing the heating system, most helped by MaPrimeRénov devices, should not systematically be a priority. This (significant) investment is more useful for a house that is already well insulated than for so-called “thermal sieve” housing where there are other big problems. In all cases, the France Rénov’ advice will be the essential preamble, insists Danyel Dubreuil. “This will be neutral, hand-sewn advice, adapted to your home, your financial capabilities and your needs, and with work that will be part of a logical path of complete renovation. You cannot change the windows before doing the ‘insulation, for example.’

Is a file created before the announced changes still valid or do we have to start the process again?

“We asked that the scales not be modified so that the financial projections for each file do not change,” replies Danyel Dubreuil, but the details of the reduction in the amount of aid announced by the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire are not known at this stage. “On the other hand, we know that the announced reduction will not have an impact on current files, because the budget of the National Housing Agency (Anah) will still be increasing,” specifies Isabelle Gasquet. It is not possible to give an answer for future files.

How to proceed in co-ownership? What is the amount of aid according to the co-ownerships?

The first steps are identical to individual housing, except that they are undertaken collectively, with a single aid application file submitted by the co-ownership trustee. The MaPrimeRénov’ Copropriété assistance finances 30% or 45% of the cost of the work, depending on the energy gain. It is necessary to start with a basic study, again going through France Rénov’. These are mandatory for co-ownerships of more than fifty lots and they include a global thermal diagnosis (DTG) and a multi-year work plan. From January 1, 2025, the DTG will become mandatory for all co-ownerships. “To do this, there is local aid. For example, the Métropole du Grand Paris offers 5,000 euros in basic aid for carrying out these auditsexplains Danyel Dubreuil. But you still have to go through a France Rénov’ advice area beforehand.”

Once the work has been voted on at the general meeting of co-owners, you must be accompanied by a project management assistance operator (AMO). The work concerns the common areas (for example, the insulation of the walls from the outside or the insulation of the roof) or “private portions declared to be of collective interest” of the co-ownership (for example the change of all the doors and windows of the building).

At what income level does the aid stop?

The aid is progressive to ensure that all people who need it renovate their homes. “Overall, by 2050, we must renovate more than 90% of the stock, explains Danyel Dubreuil. We start with the ‘energy sieves’, with emphasis on the fact that everyone has the right to quality energy renovation.”

“There is a double progressiveness continues Danyel Dubreuil. The less money people have, the more help they receive. But everyone is helped today, except the last two income deciles.”. Or the highest incomes. For these, Danyel Dubreuil believes, “it is not the condition of help that makes them take action, because they have many other means of taking action”. A 2024 financial aid guide was published on February 15 by France Rénov’: it gives the resource ceilings, details of aid, amounts of aid, conditions for obtaining, etc.

Are secondary homes affected by the aid?

MaPrimeRénov’ and MaPrimeRénov Copropriété only concern main residences. “It’s a question of fairness in relation to public resources”, specifies Danyel Dubreuil. L’energy efficiency expert at CLER-Réseau however, advises carrying out the necessary studies to begin renovations when the accommodation becomes a primary residence during retirement in particular. “There is a real challenge of maintaining comfort and health in these new housing” he said. “It can also be a heritage investment”.

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