A criticism of Energy Performance Certificates is that they are a bit dry and do not encourage action from homeowners. And because of the way they have evolved, they do not provide the reader with enough information or an opportunity to evaluate the impact on the household of the measures they suggest. Furthermore, they have been negatively associated with the legal obligations that sellers and buyers have to go through in order to transfer the ownership of a property; something which we have tried to address through the introduction of the Domestic Property Energy Report. All in all, not a great combination.
It is arguable that what people who receive an EPC need is a way to explore and evaluate the measures that they are presented with, and to look at further measures. Now this gap has been filled. CLG has just launched such an online tool on the Landmark site that is designed to help recipients of an EPC understand a range of potential improvement options open to them.
The site is aimed at people who have received an EPC, so to use it a person has to have a valid RRN – the reference number that appears on each lodged EPC. Once they have entered the RRN (and avoided incorrectly entering the ubiquitous Captcha code) they are presented with a single page of options to choose from, starting with relatively straightforward things, such as loft or cavity wall insulation and draught proofing, and moving on to more sophisticated changes – for instance, looking at the impact of improving or changing the heating system.
Because the tool uses the data from the EPC, the options it offers takes these factors in to account. Therefore it knows if the person checking already has a condensing boiler, for example, so if a home already has a 90% efficient boiler, it won’t suggest installing one. One of the interesting things that it does do is provide the opportunity to evaluate a whole range of replacement heating systems and compare them with the one currently installed: some may save money, others may not…
Also, if the homeowner wants to know if installing a ground source heat pump will save money or carbon dioxide, this can be evaluated. Clearly, some of the measures may not be realistic for a number of reasons – a ground source heat pump in a city centre flat for example. But the site provides links for users to provide those using the site with more about the measures being suggested. In addition it provides indicative costs, to get an idea of payback.
NES developed the software engine which powers the calculations. We think this is a significant development (and not just because we did the development work) because it moves us toward a position which makes the information on the EPC far more accessible and useful. This can also be seen as the first of a number of steps with the aim of providing householders with information about how to improve the energy efficiency of their home, reduce carbon emissions and assist them in putting their plans in to action.
Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said:
“More carbon emissions come from our homes than from our cars, so it is vital that we all play our part in reducing emissions from the built environment.
“But despite receiving an Energy Performance Certificate, new owners landlords and tenants often don’t know where to begin to make the necessary changes to ‘green up’ their home.
“The EPC Adviser tool published today changes that. It gives valuable information on the things people can do – from using low-energy light bulbs and getting the loft insulated, to installing solar panels and wind turbines.
“Those using this new online support will also be able to see the potential savings these measures can make to their energy bills, meaning they can save money as well as saving carbon. I would urge everyone with an EPC to go online and see what they can do to make their homes greener and cheaper to run.”
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