Home energy performance certificates 'failing'EPCs: 'no influence' on 80% of buyers and tenants

02 March 2011

Home energy performance certificates

Energy performance certificates: 'failing to influence buyers and tenants'

Energy performance certificates, designed to inform home buyers and renters about a property's energy efficiency, are largely being ignored, a new study has concluded.

Almost 80% of home buyers or renters who see an energy performance certificate (EPC) for their new home don't act on any of the recommendations it includes on how to improve the building's energy efficiency or cut heating bills.

And only 18% of those questioned by government consumer body Consumer Focus said seeing an EPC had influenced their decision to buy or rent a particular property - despite one in seven claiming energy efficiency was top (after price and size) of their property 'wish list'.

Our guide to energy performance certificates lists how to get the best out of your EPC as a home buyer, seller, landlord or renter.

Energy performance certificates explained

Which? energy expert Sylvia Baron says: 'Given all the recent energy price hikes, homeowners and renters are increasingly looking for ways to lower their household heating bills. 

'It's disappointing that energy performance certificates appear to be falling short of their potential as a tailored source of energy-saving advice.' 

EPCs were first introduced in 2007 in a bid to help improve the energy efficiency of buildings. It's compulsory for home sellers - and since 2008, landlords - to obtain a certificate that prospective buyers and renters can look at. The certificate is valid for 10 years and grades the property's energy efficiency from A to G, based on an independent assessment.

The EPC also lists ways to improve the rating - such as installing double glazing, loft or wall insulation.

Using an energy performance certificate

The study additionally found that only 44% of buyers and renters since October 2008 actually saw an EPC before signing a tenancy agreement or committing to buy. 

Along with giving Trading Standards more powers to act against people selling or letting without an EPC, Consumer Focus wants to see more meaningful information on the certificates, such as an indication of how much an average annual energy bill would cost compared to other properties.

It's also urging savvy prospective buyers or renters to use the results from an EPC to negotiate on price, and the EPC's recommendations to assess the best ways to improve their home's energy efficiency.

According to the latest government figures, carbon emissions from homes have reduced by 3% between 1990 and 2009. As part of the planned Green Deal, homes will be offered loans in order to make energy-saving home improvements.

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You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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