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Firm calls for reformed EPC system

Energy efficiency mobile app on screen. Ecology, eco house concept

The Energy Performance Certificate system needs to be revamped to more accurately display a property’s energy status, accreditation scheme Elmhurst Energy argued.

The group said an improved EPC would show energy cost, as well as the property’s energy use and carbon emissions to deliver a more accurate energy efficiency picture.

This would advise the right measures for improving a property’s energy efficiency for the long-term and enable landlords to plan their investments. It might mean relatively inexpensive installations such as loft or cavity wall insulation and would also deliver confidence in their choice of low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps.

Stuart Fairlie, Elmhurst’s managing director, said: “To support landlords in making their properties more energy efficient for tenants, we must first have a true picture of their current energy performance – something we don’t have at the moment. It is vital we revamp the EPC to support landlords in making the right improvements to meet EPC band C.”

“Against a backdrop of rising fuel poverty, environmental pressures and energy security concerns, EPCs are coming in for a lot of scrutiny and criticism,”

“This is understandable, as the EPC as it exists now is over 15 years old. It was designed then simply as a cost metric, showing how expensive or cheap a home is to run. But scrapping EPCs altogether would be a hugely backwards step, leaving us with no benchmark to work from to work towards carbon net zero housing stock.

“The new EPC must include the right data – the three Cs of energy cost, energy consumption and carbon emissions. The cost measure would support tackling fuel poverty and home running costs by showing recommendations to reduce energy bills, the energy consumption measure would illustrate how to reduce energy use, and the carbon emissions figure would support policy decisions on reducing carbon emissions to reach net zero.”

Elmhurst has published a fact sheet on the current state of minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) in the private rented sector in England and Wales.

Clarity needed on EPC deadline

Landlords need to know the true energy efficiency of their property and have a deadline for improvements to calm fears around the cost of staying within the law, accreditation scheme Elmhurst Energy said.

The scheme argued that fast-tracking the government’s proposed EPC revamp is a ‘must’ to support the private rented sector.

It is also urging confirmation of whether all rented homes in England and Wales will be required to meet a target of EPC band C by 2028 or earlier, under Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) Regulations – an issue under consultation since 2021 on which news is not expected until 2024.

Landlords are already well advanced in their readiness for any higher standards; the most recent poll suggests about 80% of landlords have already completed energy efficiency works in response, and over 60% of properties held within their portfolios are already rated C or above.

Fairlie added: “Private landlords are understandably concerned about the property improvement-related regulatory changes coming their way, but most of these fears are not based on fact.

“Many landlords will be more prepared than they think.

“To calm concerns, we need absolute clarity on the deadline for making energy efficiency improvements to EPC band C, clarity at a policy level on how our housing stock reaches carbon net zero, and clarity on the level of monetary support landlords will receive for making energy efficiency improvements.”#

The organisation’s 2023 almanac, ‘Turning the Dial’, delivering 10 asks for UK government to speed progress in carbon net zero. Its call for change to EPCs would also support progress on the Government’s EPC Action Plan and other current initiatives to improve EPCs.