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Report slams ‘failure’ of home energy certificates

A report on future strategies for raising energy efficiency in existing homes is calling for a review and extension of energy performance certificates (EPCs).

The recommendation was one of five key points in the Low Carbon Existing Homes report by the UK Green Building Council in partnership with the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes, Sustainable Development Commission and the Technology Strategy Board.

The report said measures had to be introduced to tackle a “market failure” in the introduction of energy efficiency measures. Other proposals included new funding mechanisms, better training, improved advice and national competency standards for low carbon refurbishment.

The report will feed in to the Government’s public consultation on energy efficiency and heat, launching in November.

An extract for the report said: “Many felt in their current format EPCs were not fulfilling their potential to drive consumer action.”

Respondents said the review should cover an overhaul of SAP, improvements to the accuracy of assessments, linking ratings to operational performance and offering householders detailed advice.

It also suggested the Govern-ment could use EPCs to demand householders improve their properties or introduce tax breaks for those who have improved their ratings.

Roger Webb, director of the Heating and Hot Water Industry Council, said: “If we do not set ourselves tough targets for existing homes we are not going to get anywhere. EPCs are a good driver, but we have to work through details to see what can be achieved.”

Bob Towse, head of technical and safety at the Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association, said: “I would agree that EPCs have not worked. They do not require anyone to do anything to their property.”

He said a competent person standard for low carbon refurbishment could help. He said: “The quality of many energy assessors leaves very much to be desired. They are not building professionals nor energy professionals.”

Mr Webb warned that helping installers develop working knowledge of low carbon refurbishment required “massive investment in training”.

Hywel Davies, Cibse tech-nical director, said the property downturn made refurbishment even more important. He said: “In the current economic climate it is likely that the vast majority of buildings for the next 50 years have already been built.

'Therefore we need to gear up to deliver low carbon refurbishment of the existing stock and we must ensure there are enough people who know how to carry out the work.”

Nigel Farren, from estate agency HomesMatter, said: “Clearly EPCs are the key drivers for getting homes improved in terms of energy efficiency. In the previously buoyant housing market it was presumed buyers would implement the recommendations.

'We are now in a unique market where there are 15 sellers to every buyer. I think there has to be a switch in focus away from buyers implementing actions in their EPCs to sellers and there need to be incentives given.”