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Are EPCs Accurate? Energy experts say recent criticism is unfair

A group of energy professionals in the property sector are taking issue with a claim by consumer organisation Which? over the accuracy of Energy Performance Certificates. 

Which? says that with millions of households across the UK concerned about how to keep their homes warm in winter and worried about high energy bills, an EPC should be a valuable source of information; and as the UK nears its target to reach Net Zero in 2050, EPCs should be an important tool.

Yet it claims that a recent government survey showed low public awareness and understanding of EPC ratings, and goes on to claim: “There is now considerable evidence that too many EPCs do not provide an accurate assessment of the energy efficiency of a home, the metrics that are used are confusing for consumers, and there is a need to provide new information that would support consumers in the decisions they need to make. The presentation of EPCs also needs to be improved to make them more accessible and useful to consumers.” 

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The consumer body goes on to say that for EPCs to be effective in supporting consumers, they will need to have relevant, accessible and accurate information and advice. 

The Property Energy Professionals Association complains that it was not consulted by Which? before the claim was made and it wants to see the evidence behind the claim, to confirm that it is more than people simply not understanding what an EPC does and does not do. 

PEPA says it backs the consumer body’s call for EPCs having more than one ‘headline’ result and instead providing more information and advice relevant to individual properties. 

But PEPA chair Andrew Parkin states: ‘We were not invited by Which? to input into this work, which we would happily have done, and indeed would have been able to provide valuable information to assist them with their research … we are disappointed to read that a well-worn and outdated phrase has been repeated in their release that states ‘There is now considerable evidence that EPCs do not provide an accurate assessment of the energy efficiency of a home’. 

“PEPA is clear that the outcome Which? seeks in respect of EPCs fulfilling a vital role in underpinning specific advice to help homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their carbon footprint is totally in alignment with PEPA’s manifesto. Working together may have provided a more accurate report and a better overall result.” 

PEPA is a trade body which represents businesses that provide EPCs, Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and Air Conditioning Inspection Reports (ACIRs). 

Which? called for a series of detailed reforms to the EPC process, including:

- EPCs should have more than one headline or primary metric in order to support consumers’ understanding of energy use in the property and the choices they can make. The choice of metrics should be tested with consumers, but could include the property’s energy use, its cost, the heating system and the environmental impact;

- EPCs should include more information to support consumers in the transition from fossil fuel heating to new low carbon heating systems including the environmental impact of their current heating system and when it is likely to need updating; the ability of the building and heating system to benefit from flexible tariffs; the ability of the building to generate energy through solar thermal or PV panels; and information about potential heat networks, drawn from the Local Energy Action Plans that all councils are now required to develop;

- The advice in an EPC should be relevant to the type of property and provide an accessible gateway to sources of further information and advice;

- The EPC should link to a Building Passport or Log Book that contains more detailed information about the building and plans. 

Which? also wants much improved accessibility for EPC data, through apps and online services, more frequently updated certificates, and non-digital versions should be available for those unable to access digital information.

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  • George Dawes

    Well they would say that wouldn’t they

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    I'm a chartered surveyor, commercial & residential landlord and I've been very pleased with the accuracy of the various EPCs I've commissioned over the years. The few vocal landlords who tediously moan about EPCs are the ones who have failed to keep their investment properties up-to-date and fit-for-purpose. They are now scared because they've left it too late and don't know how to add insulation to walls, ceilings, lofts and roofs. They have chosen to ignore the Conservative's Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard, introduced 9 years ago by Cameron.
    We've had the excellent EPC national measurement system in place for over 16 years and our country now has 21 million accurate certificates on the public database at epcregister. com.
    My buildings' surveys were carried out by professional energy assessors (as with most things in life I didn't go for the cheapest price on the internet). I supplied the energy assessor with extra information on insulation and other improvements because I know that they do not have X-ray vision.
    Simple and common sense.

    John  Adams

    You constantly post utter nonsense, I wonder why you keep making yourself look foolish

     
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    • A S
    • 15 May 2024 08:09 AM

    Martin, it's impressive how you comply with Government diktats like a good little citizen. However, being a company director has responsibilities. You have a statutory duty to file a Confirmation Statement for VITAL DIRECT LIMITED, and it's over a month overdue. Your social credit score will be taking a hammering because of your sloppiness.

     
    George Dawes

    If thats true , all I can say is your so called profession seriously requires a great reset

    As for your condescending comments, I have a flat with a B rating , beat that Mr Fount of all Knowledge

     
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    Nottm Trent....says it all...

     
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    John, he keeps posting his bilge because either he cannot read the room OR he thinks he is the Messiah of EPCs. 😂😂😂

     
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    Chris. Nothing wrong with Nottingham Trent.

     
    Peter Why Do I Bother

    I can imagine a night out with Gibbo would be as exciting as watching John Major and Edwina Currie up to no good.....

    Honestly have a day off you fool...

     
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    Spend money to save money is fine, but to spend more money than the saved money is for fools

     
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    As one of the more "vocal landlords who tediously moan about EPCs" I will point out I have insulated every roof and cavity wall that is possible to insulate and have solar panels on 5 of my 18 properties. It is certainly not reasonable or accurate to say I "have failed to keep their investment properties up-to-date and fit-for-purpose".

    As I have tediously pointed out on many occasions EPCs are wildly inaccurate. Simply using a different assessor can easily make a 10 point difference in the result.
    Energy bills have no correlation to EPC scores which strikes me as making the whole exercise totally pointless.

  • John  Adams

    Ignore the resident loon. The rest of us know these reports are a complete sham with previous examples being given of identical flats having vastly different EPCs

    Anyone except The trade organisation and our resident looney, will have had plenty of experience of the fact these reports are illogical and can not be conducted by someone for £80 and still make a living unless they do so at break neck speed so as to get the volume needed to pay the software fees.

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    The accuracy of the EPC depends on the quality of the assessor. Some are more rigorous than others! There is plenty of opportunity for assessors to make assumptions that are incorrect & these obviously affect the outcome. When the cost of an EPC can be anywhere from £45 - £145 it is not surprising the results vary. But the biggest problem is that we use the wrong metric! When EPCs first came in it offered two scores, one based on cost & one on carbon. We now use the cost based algorithm to measure the efficiency when we should be using the carbon figure. This is why 'green' electricity' fuelling heating scores much worse than cheap 'dirty' gas. Also, the recommendations for improving the score are often completely inappropriate.

    Until we are clear what EPCs are measuring, why would anyone take any notice? Until the recommendations are sensible, why would anyone be guided by them.

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    As Tricia says, the main problem is that it is never stated anywhere that the property's inherent energy values are offset by the type of energy used in that property. Thus a property running on piped gas will have a much higher rating that the same property running on LPG. The over-riding offset is the price per kw of the fuel. Apart from that, the EPC is a reasonable COMPARATIVE tool to measure a property energy use against another property.

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    My problem is that, an assessor with the right tools and skill set can determine if the wall is insulated, be it cavity, internal or external insulated. The EPC assessor can only use what they can see with their naked eyes or proof of some receipt. I can have a fake receipt of insulation and your EPC inspector will be fooled. You don’t have the tools or knowledge of a real expert to clearly identify the energy efficiency of a property instead of checking if people are using energy efficient bulbs. You need tools that can scan the energy efficiency of walls ceilings, windows l, floors etc with efficiency of boiler, rads etc to workout a clear energy efficiency of a property irrespective of the amount of insulation etc. Instead, you are using school boy measuring to classify properties which are to be used for a business. It is time for EPC to be a professional service instead of this amateur nonsense.

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    Who cares if they're accurate. No-one ever reads them. They are just an additional expense for landlords and totally unnecessary.

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    Not to mention a waste of paper if printed out.

     
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    Agreed, but if they are going to use it to control rental properties, at least it should have a specific science to it.

     
  • jeremy clarke

    Currently, newly fitted electric heat recovery pump rates higher than gas central heating??

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