Cost, consumption, carbon – EPCs in the UK must change to measure all three

A report from Elmhurst Energy is urging an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) revamp as part of 10 act-now policy and industry recommendations it says are necessary for preventing the UK from stalling further in its journey to carbon net zero and delivering truly energy efficient homes.

EPCs must change if they are to properly support the journey to net zero, help tackle fuel poverty and improve our buildings, according to analysis from an energy efficiency almanac published this month.

‘Turning the Dial’, from Elmhurst Energy, the UK’s largest accreditation scheme for energy assessors, calls on Government to adopt the ‘Three Cs’. This would give equal focus to energy cost, energy consumption and carbon emissions in EPCs.

Elmhurst says the change is needed as part of the EPC Action Plan, first published in 2020 and still to be implemented fully.

Elmhurst Energy managing director Stuart Fairlie says:

“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.

“This is now too basic a measure for the challenges we face today. People care about cost, energy consumption and carbon emissions. The time is now right to update the EPC so that it can more easily communicate vital information about the predicted and actual energy use and carbon emissions of a building.”

As well as detailing energy efficiency legislative and regulatory developments over the last year, Elmhurst’s almanac features a list of future policy recommendations, including:

  1. Redesign the EPC– Change the EPC to include the ‘Three Cs’: energy consumption, energy cost and carbon emissions.
  2. Use the ‘Golden Triangle’ for EPCs– Provide the building’s asset rating – the predicted energy cost and consumption of a building based on average occupancy, its occupancy rating – the predicted energy consumption of a building based on the people using it) and its energy consumption – the energy the building actually uses to run).
  3. Ensure EPCs reflect the current state of a building– Reassess and reissue an EPC every time a building undergoes changes that would impact energy performance. No EPC should be older than three years.
  4. Make energy efficiency education a priority– Continue to prioritise consumer education around energy efficient living, using energy assessors to support this.
  5. Keep updating assessment methodologies– Continue to invest in updating SAP, SBEM and RdSAP methodologies to reflect the introduction of new technologies and innovation.

In addition, Elmhurst is calling for the increased use of qualified energy assessors to help advise homeowners and businesses to boost the uptake of available renewable technologies; rebalance the tax applied to fuels to favour low emission fuels instead of fossil fuels; use available technology to measure real-time building energy consumption and heat loss; and create a national standard for Net Zero buildings, including introducing an independent certification or competent persons scheme.

Stuart Fairlie added:

“This year Elmhurst turns 30 and we have already seen the announcement of a new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and the launch of the new taskforce for energy efficiency in the last week. We hope the new department, faced with so many calls to update EPCs, will take head and help us deliver the energy efficiency improvements so desperately needed.”

The Elmhurst Almanac is available to download and you can join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #ElmhurstAlmanac.

Now in its 30th year, Elmhurst is the UK’s largest EPC accreditation scheme. It supports a membership of more than 9,500 quality assured energy assessors and a growing body of retrofit assessors and coordinators. In 2021, Elmhurst members were responsible for completing more than 1.2 million EPCs in the UK.

A standard PDF of Elmhurst’s ‘Turning the Dial’ almanac is also available:

2 thoughts on “Cost, consumption, carbon – EPCs in the UK must change to measure all three

  1. My home’s energy performance certificate does already provide information on its’ relative running costs compared with others. It also has a separate calculation concerning its likely carbon dioxide emissions.
    But it is well over ten years old, and I will only consider updating it were I to decide to sell or rent out the building. It is only at that point that it matters whether the certificate is twenty, ten or – as proposed – three years old.

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