Energy Performance Certificates are in urgent need of reform, Which? warns

The next government must seek to reform Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) because they are unreliable and can cost homeowners when they come to sell or make home improvements, according to Which?.

A snapshot investigation by the consumer champion found that EPCs, which were introduced in 2007, can be riddled with inaccuracies and unhelpful advice

The UK is currently facing a big challenge to reduce its energy use and switch to low carbon heating and for many households, EPCs will be the first step in getting advice on how to improve their home’s energy efficiency. Access to grant funding, or ‘green’ financial products such as loans or mortgages, is often available only to those who meet certain EPC-based criteria.

The consumer champion selected 12 Which? members who were homeowners across England, Wales and Scotland and booked EPC assessments on their behalf during February to March 2024 to find out how accurate EPCs are. Their properties were built between 1650 and 1999 and ranged from a one-bedroom flat to a five-bedroom detached house.

Which? uncovered issues with the accuracy of the results and the recommendations that homeowners received.

One homeowner had their EPC survey done, but never received their certificate. The survey fee was refunded, but the homeowner was left in the dark about their home’s energy efficiency. Of the remaining 11 participants, just one was ‘very satisfied’ with their EPC and only three said they were likely to recommend getting an EPC, based on this experience.

Most participants (eight out of 11) told Which? their EPC did not appear to be accurate – they said the descriptions of key aspects of their home like the windows, roofs and heating systems were incorrect.

Several participants also felt that the recommendations suggested were unaffordable. One consumer said that they felt draught proofing was overlooked in their EPC report despite their home having an open chimney and front door with single glazing.

Peter and Carol Vermeulen in Aberdeenshire achieved a D rating for energy efficiency for their 1980s four-bedroom semi-detached bungalow in Aberdeenshire following their EPC assessment.

On receipt of the EPC, however, they noticed several discrepancies. There was no mention of their solar PV or solar thermal panels, or of a wood-burning stove. The suspended floor was described as uninsulated, although they had discussed their underfloor insulation with the assessor during the survey and offered to open an inspection hatch so this could be checked.

Which? contacted the assessor to point out the mistakes. After checking his survey notes, he admitted that there were omissions (which he blamed on the software) and offered to supply a new EPC.

The assessor issued a new, corrected EPC, with an improved B rating for energy efficiency. A better EPC can make a big difference for owners, as it allows them to command a higher price if they choose to sell and may make the home more attractive to tenants.

Megan Dobney also achieved a D rating for energy efficiency for her two-bedroom Victorian terraced house in London.

The EPC recommended several improvements, including internal or external wall insulation (typically costing £4,000 to £14,000 and saving £172 a year), suspended floor insulation (typically costing £800 to £1,200 and saving £70 a year,) solar water heating (typically costing £4,000 to £6,000 and saving £57 annually) and solar panels (typically costing £3,500 to £5,500 and saving £621 a year).

Installing all four could cost Megan up to £26,700 and she would only see the property rise by one band from D to C. She could save around £920 a year through installing all these energy efficiency measures – meaning it could take up to 29 years to recover the cost.

Megan said: “The recommended changes are extremely expensive, generally for small savings each year, and would require massive disruption.”

With millions of families across the UK worried about high energy bills, EPCs could provide valuable information on how people can save money and improve their home’s efficiency. However, they are in desperate need of reform.

Which? is calling for the next government to reform EPCs to make them a more reliable and useful tool for householders. In addition to addressing concerns about the accuracy and reliability of EPCs, Which? believes the design and content of EPCs should be reformed to ensure it provides consumers with the information and advice they need. This should include information to help consumers prepare for the transition to low-carbon heating.

EPCs should also be made more interactive, so that consumers can input information so that the advice is more relevant to their circumstances. EPCs should also include up-to-date costings relevant to the type of property and provide links to any financial support and a database of installers belonging to government-certified schemes.

EPCs are based on assessments by Domestic Energy Assessors, who can qualify through several different accreditation schemes that provide online and in person training. The next government should review auditing of EPCs and the training requirements for this role to ensure that assessors have the skills needed to complete reliable assessments.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “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.”

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, believes that EPCs could be better utilised through the introduction of a Property Passport to increase the uptake of energy efficiency improvements.

He explained: “This would enable information to be transferable across building owners and help maintain a long-term decarbonisation goal for the building.

“The process would not replace EPCs, but enhance them, creating an opportunity to capture EPC data digitally and add to it with other data over time. A Property Passport would also provide detailed guidance on the actions required, and already undertaken, to improve the property, based on building fabric and operational data helping building owners and occupiers make decisions to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.”



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  1. MrManyUnits

    Expect Labour and their net zero to u turn on the renting out anything less than a C, so tenants will be living in tents and Motorhomes outside trying to keep warm.

    Broken Britain is rolling on 3 wheels but in the next 5 yrs expect a begging bowl to the IMF.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      If such a thing were to happen (i.e. begging bowl to the IMF) then surely your anger should be directed to the Tories who have destroyed the UK with their appalling economic policies.

      Economically speaking, we are now the worst performing country in the EU and G20.

      That is after 14 years of Tory leadership.

      The Credit Crunch was a global phenomenon that we cannot blame Labour for.

      Since then, nearly 15 years of hard austerity have driven the average working family into poverty whilst the already wealthy have gotten richer still.

      It’s time for a significant change in direction. Labour may not have all the answer but almost literally anything (except Reform, obviously) would be better than the current incumbant idiots!!!

      1. biffabear

        You couldn’t be more wrong.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Really? Are you sure..? I think that the facts and figures would rather support my position.

          But then, some people in the UK rather seem to ignore real facts & figures in favour of their own “personal truth” as provided to them by their own favoured echo chamber.

          Personally, I am happy to trust the facts and figures presented to me by various non-partisan, provably independent sources, rather than from Nige down the pub, or Rishi the economically dyscalculic.

          The current Tory government from Cameron onwards has financially eviscerated the bottom 50% of the population and handed the money to the top 10%.

          The facts speak for themselves. The issue at hand is are you looking in the correct manner at the right places to see the evidence?

    2. biffabear

      Agreed. I even heard today that they are planning ‘Unfair Dismissal’ from day 1.

      As well as capitol gains on your main home – which would end people moving – Dead.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Again… are you sure?

        I have a feeling that you might find these to be “dog whistle” epithets provided as simple propaganda to try and persuade people to keep voting for the people that have spent the best part of the last fifteen years making the majority of the UK objectively poorer in favour of people who were already fabulously wealthy.

        This is “normal” Conservative tactics in the runup to an election – you can see it time and again.

        “Fear Labour – they will make you poor!”

        In actual fact it should be “Fear the Conservatives – the will make you even poorer than you already think you are and smile while they remove the money from your wallet.”

        1. biffabear

          I was told by an employment HR company.
          The Capitol Gains is mainstream news.

  2. PMT

    I am disappointed in this report and its conclusions, as in the main, it seems to identify poor assessor quality, more than anything else. There are more important things for the country to be grappling with than EPC certificates, and what are they worth anyway?

    I once went to view a loft flat that was an F at best, but was presented with an EPC C certificate that gave a good score for GFCH. There was no such thing – there wasn’t even a gas supply to the flat!

    1. CountryLass

      We had a property that had really old storage heaters. We had nice new electric ones fitted, but because they were not ‘high heat retention’ ones they did not make a difference to the EPC. Despite the fact that they were individually room programmable, so you only needed to heat the rooms you were using, when you were using them… So lovely modern heaters are apparently as energy efficient as ones that came out of the ark, gotcha.

  3. Bless You

    Why doesn’t which do something useful and overhaul our stupid legal system .

  4. cjhhhh51

    Sounds like a good idea to me. We’ve got the infrastructure for these reports now they should be as useful as possible. Yes a lot of the problem is some of the assessors but it’s a golden opportunity to help people with the energy efficiency of their home which is currently not maximised. Good idea Which.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    EPC ratings are quite misunderstood…

    The rating does not represent how energy efficient the property is, but how much it will cost to run assuming normal occupancy.

    Therefore, a five bedroom house with one person in it, using it like a one bedroom flat with only two rooms, the bathroom and kitchen heated, is NOT what the EPC is there for.

    Per kilowatt hour delivered to your front door, electricity costs approximately three times as much as gas. This is because burning gas for heating is 90% (approx.) efficient whilst turning that same gas (or other burnable stuff) into electricity wastes approx. 35% at the turbine (can’t be helped because it’s how turbines work) and roughly another 35% in transmission because the electricity heats up the cables as it passes through.

    Therefore a properly occupied five bedroom house with Night Storage Heaters costs approximately three times as much to heat as the exact same house fitted with Gas Central Heating.

    If you remember the OLD EPCs they came with an Environmental Impact Rating too, but these seem to have been removed at some stage, probably because they were confusing.

    Assessor errors aside though, EPCs do need to be upgraded to something more fine tuned and useable, they are definitely not fit for purpose.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Also, with regard to recommendations…

      There are usually several recommendations on an EPC.

      Top of the list would be:
      * Hot water Cylinder Insulation – cheap to do
      * Low energy lighting – cheap to do
      * Thermostatic Radiator Valves – cheap to do
      * Loft insulation – cheap (or sometimes free) to do
      * Modern condensing boiler – more expensive but often forced on the homeowner by a broken current boiler
      * Double glazing – more expensive, but you can’t replace single glazed windows with single glazed any more…
      * and so on…

      So, if you’ve already done the above, which of course most homeowners have, then you are left with the expensive things with a low return on the investment.

      You cannot simply have a blank spot because there are still potential improvements to be made, even if they won’t make sense to most people.

  6. biffabear

    I’ve just listed the a house and the EPC was an ‘F’. The client has argued it, as her house is the same as the house next door which is a ‘C’.
    Upon investigation, next door is listed as having gas fired central heating. Despite there being no gas in the road. EPC’s are a joke.


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