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Consumer watchdog warns EPCs are full of hot air

Energy performance certificates (EPCs) can be riddled with inaccuracies and unhelpful advice that could cost homeowners when they come to sell or make home improvements, research suggests.

Consumer watchdog Which? selected 12 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. 


The research 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.

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, Which? said.

It is also calling for EPCs to 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.

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, the consumer watchdog added.

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.”

Commenting on the report, Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, said: “Propertymark has long said that Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) could be better utilised through the introduction of a Property Passport to increase the uptake of energy efficiency improvements. 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.”

  • Tom Tangney

    This is mainly due to the cost of EPC's not representing the work that goes in to producing them. Pay peanuts, get monkeys

  • David Bennett

    Agreed Tom T. As an energy assessor (domestic and commercial) this depresses me. The majority of assessors are professional and passionate at what they do, let down by a few 'monkeys, often through national companies and many via the corporates, who just want cheap and a box ticked. Come this July, the EPC is changing and much more detailed information will be required, to produce a more accurate EPC. Prices will rise!

  • icon

    I'm a chartered surveyor and both a commercial and domestic landlord. Every single one of the EPCs that I've commissioned over the last 15 years (and it's been a lot) has been accurate and well produced. EPCs are the UK's national measurement system and that together with David Cameron's sensible MEES standards, are working brilliantly at steadily improving the quality of rental buildings across our county. Folk continually moan that Britain has the worst buildings in Europe - well EPCs and MEES are solving that problem, in a robust and systematic fashion.
    A sample of 12 people by Which?- gosh that's got statistical accuracy written all over it! The homeowner found some of the suggestions 'unaffordable'. Cricky, let's blame EPCs for the cost of external wall insulation and solar panels! My wife and I had a kitchen designer over to our home the other day and the cost of some of his suggestions were 'unaffordable'. QED we MUST STOP the installation of new kitchens - they're not fit for purpose!! How ridiculous.
    It doesn't take much to put 2 x layers of Rockwool in a unit's loft, a sheet of 5cm thick Celotex on the inside of external facing walls and cash-in the generous £7,500 Government grant to install an efficient high-temperature electric heat pump from Octopus Energy. It's common sense


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