Press | Published on 3rd Apr 2017

Energy Performance Certificate Review

In 2016 the Domestic Heat Strategy Group requested that the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council, HHIC form a panel to evaluate the effectiveness of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and to suggest amendments that could make it a more effective document. The panel also reviewed ways to encourage EPCs to be completed in a timelier manner and to better reflect the actual energy performance of a property.

The panel of industry experts from installation, manufacturing and assessing was formed. EPC's fall under the remit of DCLG, however, this review was undertaken by a group meeting with BEIS.

Through their discussions, it was determined that EPC’s could play a transformative role in improving the UK’s housing stock. However, the current system has issues with the accuracy of the technical details that has devalued the EPC to a point whereby it is not always fulfilling its role.

A large proportion of UK homes now has an EPC, however, because they are valid for ten years there are concerns over their accuracy. During the ten years they are valid, homeowners may make improvements to the energy performance of their home, yet this will not be reflected in the EPC unless they commission a new one. Anecdotally it was agreed that this rarely happens.

The panel also raised concerns that the current system does not place enough value in the EPC which again affects accuracy. A small internal and admittedly not representative survey by HHIC found that the EPC’s of homes bought between 2015 and 2016 by staff all contained inaccuracies, the main errors were incorrect insulation listed on the EPC and the incorrect boiler type.

If EPC’s are to fulfill their potential then improvements to the system will need to be made. EPC’s should be interactive and three dimensional, creating a useable enjoyable and informative experience for the householder.  The panel outlined a number of key proposals:

  • A two-tier EPC. The first tier to be completed by a qualified tradesperson, this would be completed for any notifiable works. The second to be a more in-depth evaluation to be completed by a qualified assessor. Both parts would be necessary to satisfy the current legal requirements of an EPC. This would allow for EPC’s to be updated in a timelier manner.
  • A full EPC to be completed when an extension to a property is undertaken.
  • Additional sections for household safety checks such as smoke alarms and CO detectors.
  • Sections to state if energy using appliances are maintained and serviced.
  • Check boxes for smart meters, retro labelling if an old boiler is installed and water meters.
  • Improve the current online database of EPCs to allow them to be updated in real time. This could be extended to allow the consumer to see what improvement certain energy performance measures would make to their EPC. By making it more consumer facing and three dimensional it is felt the householder would be far more interested and interactive with an EPC.
  • A review of the training of energy assessors and of the oversight of EPC’s.

However, before any work can commence on the above points the panel believe that it is important to ascertain the current Government’s willingness to reform EPC’s.

The EPC is governed by statute, The Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 and the Building Regulation 2010 (2010 No 2214, Part 6, Regulation 29). Therefore any changes to the structure of the EPC would require a legislative amendment. Currently, the statute outlines that an EPC is valid for ten years and that the personal details of a resident must not be published.  During this period no record of any improvements will be made which means that a full EPC assessment will be required if the house is to be sold and is then open again to the potential inaccuracy of this survey. The committee also believe that as with a car a record of the work carried out during the ten year period would be of significant benefit to the homeowner and potential purchaser.  

The Statute also determines that an EPC is only completed by an energy assessor (2010 No. 2214. Part 6 Regulation 30). For the two-tier element, this would require an amendment to allow other ‘qualified’ tradespeople to produce elements of the EPC.

The current provisions are to meet the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The group’s recommendations to include non-energy saving measures may not be deemed in scope as they do not contribute to energy saving. However the group believe that including them in the EPC will increase awareness and value for the home owner and the buyer.

EPC’s are now a devolved matter with Scotland and Northern Ireland having control over their application. Any changes to the EPC in England and Wales would therefore not apply across the UK.

The Ecodesign legislation has the requirement for installers of heat systems to provide a package label which is left with the home owner or tenant. Many have questioned what use this piece of legislation is in its current form. Linking the two pieces of legislation so that the package label provides the information regarding the heating system for the EPC would improve the EPC’s and package labels value and provide the home owner or tenant with accurate information for potential buyers.

HHIC are confident that as the EPC process is reviewed Government will take the opportunity to review the recommendations that the committee has made.