How do they perform? You can't tell just by looking...

At the Energy Saving Trust we know quite a lot about how people think about energy efficiency in the home, and we think Energy Performance Certificates (or EPCs) have an important role to play in improving people’s general awareness – and changing how they behave.

Our market research from last year shows that 51% of 2,665 people surveyed would not have considered or noticed their home’s energy performance before EPCs were introduced.

The same survey showed that people are interested in what an EPC tells them – 44% of people said that they would ask an estate agent or seller questions about the EPC, and 49% said that they were curious to find out how their current or future home would rate on an EPC.

With all this in mind we’ve been busy putting together a response to the Government’s consultation on just this issue.

One thing we’re asking is: with the government’s Green Deal programme set to have a massive impact on green refurbishment, what’s the future of these useful documents? These thoughts may clarify the issue…

1. As we move towards the Green Deal, EPCs need to become common currency for householders and the housing and refurbishment industry.

2. To make EPCs ‘Green-Deal-ready’, there is a need to look again at their design and format. We have evidence available to support this process, including the work we did on the original design of the certificate.

3. Home sales are slow at the moment, as most people who read the papers know. This means that the main point at which an EPC is commissioned is happening far less frequently, and far fewer people are seeing one. For EPCs to gain a wider uptake and recognition, there need to be more ‘trigger points’ in the life of a home – where some change to its fabric is already ongoing and it might be a good time to also consider energy efficiency – where one is required. We’d be happy to see a requirement, for example, that an EPC be generated when applying for the Renewable Heat Incentive.

4. There’s been recent news coverage of the increasing number of electronics in our homes. Home energy use by electrical appliances is not directly addressed by the current EPC. The Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo on the front of the certificate is key in helping homeowners save energy from appliances.

5. Most people refurbish their homes room by room, rather than doing the whole house in one fell swoop. The EPC needs to be able to reflect these room-by-room sustainable energy improvements.

6. Compliance with EPC requirements is a serious issue. Enforcement arrangements need to be strengthened. Clearly, increased awareness by occupants is the easiest avenue for driving uptake and awareness of the certificates – and it will in turn ensure that people take action.

 It’s pretty easy stuff! We hope it happens.