June 20, 2024 11:29 am

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

Energy Performance Certificates have faced criticism for inaccuracies and providing misleading guidance to property owners. According to the consumer service Which?, these certificates often fail to offer reliable advice.

To investigate, Which? selected 12 homeowners from its consumer group across England, Wales, and Scotland. These members had EPC assessments conducted on their homes between February and March 2024. The aim was to assess the reliability and accuracy of the EPC ratings.

During the investigation, the findings revealed inconsistencies in the assessments, leading to concerns about the dependability of EPCs. Some homeowners reported conflicting advice and varying results from different assessors. This raised questions about the usefulness of EPCs in providing clear guidance on energy efficiency improvements. 

Which? highlighted that the issues found in the EPC assessments could result in homeowners making decisions based on incorrect information, ultimately affecting property value and energy savings. The findings suggest a need for a more consistent and accurate approach to EPC assessments.

The properties assessed by Which? were built between 1650 and 1999, varying from a one-bedroom flat to a five-bedroom detached house.

Which? discovered problems with the accuracy of the EPC results and the recommendations given to homeowners. 

One homeowner had an EPC survey but never received the certificate. Although the survey fee was refunded, they were left without information on their home’s energy efficiency. Among the remaining 11 participants, only one was very satisfied with their EPC, and just three would recommend getting an EPC based on their experience.

Eight out of 11 participants reported that their EPC did not seem accurate. They noted incorrect descriptions of critical features like windows, roofs, and heating systems in their homes.

Several participants also believed the recommendations given in their EPC reports were beyond their budget. One participant noted that their report overlooked draught proofing despite their home having an open chimney and a front door with single glazing.

A couple in Aberdeenshire received a D rating for energy efficiency for their 1980s four-bedroom semi-detached bungalow after their EPC assessment. 

Upon reviewing the EPC, they found several discrepancies. Their solar PV and solar thermal panels were not mentioned, nor was their wood-burning stove. Additionally, the report described the suspended floor as uninsulated, even though they had discussed their underfloor insulation with the assessor and offered to open an inspection hatch for verification during the survey.

Which? contacted the assessor to address the mistakes found in the EPC report. After reviewing his survey notes, the assessor acknowledged there were omissions and attributed them to software errors. He offered to issue a new EPC.

The updated EPC, now corrected, provided a better energy efficiency rating of B.

Another Which? member received a D rating for her two-bedroom Victorian terraced house in London. The EPC suggested multiple improvements, such as internal or external wall insulation, usually costing between £4,000 and £14,000, with an expected annual saving of £172. It also recommended suspended floor insulation, estimated to cost between £800 and £1,200, saving £70 per year, solar water heating, which typically costs £4,000 to £6,000 and saves £57 annually, and solar panels, priced between £3,500 and £5,500, saving around £621 each year.

Implementing all these improvements could cost up to £26,700. Despite this significant investment, the expected outcome would be a rise from a D to a C energy rating, with an approximate annual saving of £920. Consequently, it would take nearly 29 years for the savings to cover the initial costs.

Which? asserts that Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) could be useful for homeowners to save money and boost their home’s efficiency, but they urgently need changes.

Which? is urging the next government to overhaul EPCs, aiming to make them more dependable and practical for households. They suggest the reform should tackle accuracy and reliability issues and also improve the design and content of EPCs. This could help consumers better prepare for the shift to low-carbon heating systems.

They recommend making EPCs interactive, allowing users to input their own data to receive advice more tailored to their situation. EPCs should offer up-to-date cost estimates specific to property types and include links to financial support options and a directory of installers in government-certified schemes.

EPCs are evaluated by Domestic Energy Assessors, who are trained through various accreditation programs offering both online and in-person courses. Which? believes the government should reassess how EPCs are audited and review the training standards for assessors to ensure they have the skills to perform accurate evaluations.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, says: “With millions of families worried about high energy bills and the UK facing a big challenge to transition to low carbon heating, Energy Performance Certificates could be a helpful tool for consumers looking to save money and improve their home’s efficiency in the future. 

“However, our research shows they are in desperate need of reform – with current certificates often inaccurate and only suggesting costly improvements with long pay back periods. 

“The next government must make Energy Performance Certificates a more reliable and useful tool for householders. This should include reviewing the auditing and training requirements for Domestic Energy Assessors and ensuring EPCs provide relevant information and clear, actionable advice for consumers.”



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