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Independent study of Energy Performance Certificates

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 14-Jan-09 05:11:55 PM

Apologies for the lacklustre posting of late. Apart from spinning plates, this is one of those periods when several long documents arrive in quick succession, resulting in a backlog that has to be lopped-short as events move on.

Anyway I thought this study, flagged by Paul Walker (Bourne HIPS), was a definite must-read for Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs) seeking external validation for much of everything ever bitched about on the implementation and practice of producing Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

Energy Performance Certificates in the domestic sector

The report - called Implementation of Energy Performance Certificates in the Domestic Sector - was put together by Dr Nick Banks of the UK Energy Research Centre Demand Reduction Theme, part of the UK Energy Research Centre at the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre, with help from the technical support team at NHER, Dr Brian Anderson of the Building Research Establishment (BRE), David Linsey-Bloom and Ian Shellard from Sustain’s Built Environment Assessment and EPC departments.

And not forgetting Dr Brenda Boardman, a vociferous supporter of EPCs, who commissioned the report.

Although the report was published back in May 2008 (and therefore before the Oct 1st 08 legislative amendments, RdSAP upgrade and rental sector roll-out), it is still very current in its findings.

'Agents and solicitors are the gatekeepers and interpreters of the EPC'

The report recommends that a "duty to ensure that the buyer receives a copy of the full EPC should fall on the seller’s solicitor where one is appointed", as it is they, it argues, who are most involved with the "flow of documentation".

Replace RdSAP with true SAP

The report also recommends that true SAP scores are shown on the certificate, pointing out that negative SAP ratings, and ratings above 100, are not recorded, "which may undermine the credibility of the scheme and cause problems for policy makers seeking to use the EPC as a basis for market transformation."

For example, an owner of a very inefficient home (a lot <0) may spend thousands on measures which will have no effect on the SAP score (still <0). However, the environmental impact rating will always be affected by the installation of measures saving fossil fuels. This can lead to confusion for the householder and to difficulties for policy makers.

It also questions why numerical SAP thresholds are used for determining if measures are recommended, as opposed to 'payback or absolute energy savings', because, the author discovered, of "surprising results":

For example low energy lighting (LEL) is not recommended in some circumstances despite having a reasonable payback and substantial savings over the lifetime of the bulb. Photovoltaics are always recommended whereas Solar Hot Water Systems (SHWS) are not, despite SHWS having a shorter payback.

£100 EPC

There's a lot covered in this report but I guess the most heartening "revelation" DEAs will read with air-thumping satisfaction, will be in the apparent affirmation that EPCs should cost around £100, taking into consideration time, travelling costs, insurances, lodgement, accreditation fees and general business overheads.

On this point it concludes, 'It is unlikely that a £40 EPC makes any profit for the DEA. At this price DEAs are barely covering costs.'

Eventually prices should stabilise at around £100/EPC. At current costs, this figure appears to be the average that can be offered that still generates a reasonable profit.

The executive summary calls for a total of 26 recommendations derived from a mixture of observations and interviews with four key stakeholder groups, including householders, estate agents and conveyancing solicitors.

It might be somewhat comforting to know that Carol Sweetenham, John Bryan and Matthew Fielden of the DCLG were explicitly thanked for "helpful discussions and comments" in this report, so at least you know your fears and concerns have no doubt been conveyed to those driving-through EPC implementation (although we know that Carol Sweetenham has since departed from her role).

Recommended reading.

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Posts: 2
EPCs at £40
Reply #1 on : Wed January 21, 2009, 09:26:29
I've been saying this for a long time now. At prices around £40 - you can't run a business with any profit at all.

I've had to trim my prices - and I'm getting some business. I guess the 64000 dollar question is how much more work would I win if I cut my prices to £40. I'd have to work twice as hard just to stand still - which I could do - but don't want to do.

(My car was serviced recently by a back street garage for a fixed price of £150). I guess in the end its what the landlord / ownwer considers the value the EPC provides. Only when more are fined for non compliance does the value of the EPC to the landlord (HIP to the owner) become apparent.
Posts: 1
Re: Independent study of Energy Performance Certificates
Reply #2 on : Wed January 21, 2009, 17:47:20
There's a good thread covering the topic of profitable fees at the HIF (Pricing Up a Job):

Posts: 2
Reply #3 on : Thu November 19, 2009, 13:21:50
I have stuck to my price of £57.50 plus travelling costs as quite rightly said any less and you will go broke.Those who are doing £40 or less must either be living with their mum or not doing a proper job.
I have spoke to a number of local residents lately that have stated 'oh when I had my epc done he (the assessor) was in and out in ten minutes'. Makes you wonder!!

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