Grant Shapps to change Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) delivery?

Energy Performance Certificates are required before marketing can commence for both rental and sales of properties within the UK. Anyone who has recently sold their house would have had an EPC carried out as part of the Home Information Pack.

EPC graphThe EPC graph summary has become synonymous with the quick and easy attribution of energy efficiency of a domestic property with a similar graph format being used to represent energy efficiency of domestic appliances.

The full EPC certificate provides additional information; including details of the properties’ carbon emissions and likely fuel costs alongside possible energy efficient home improvements and their associated positive impact on both energy efficiency and environmental rating

Grants Shapps’s attitude towards HIPs is clear in one respect; he does not like them, though continues to avoid spelling out the Conservatives alternative (which does make the assumption they have one) and how they plan to manage the associated problems we highlighted in our recent article Conservative Home Information Pack policy to stall property market? and the response Grant Shapps gave us to – Conservatives to consult on Home Information Packs (HIPs).

Supporters of energy efficiency are pleased that Grant Shapps has no option  to scrap EPCs as they are EU Legislation via the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD) though he can alter the way the legislation is implemented in the UK.

The rates of compliance with EPC legislation in respect of marketed properties for sale has been largely successful and attributed to HIP legislation. Brian Scannell managing director of National Energy Services recently stated during analysis of EPC numbers,

“Thanks to HIPs we know that there is a very high level of compliance in the housing marketed sales sector. So the number of marketed sales EPC registered is going to be very good indication of the total number of homes listed for sale during the year.”

However, concern amongst various industry professionals is that the Conservatives plan on resigning and down grading the EPC to the end of the sales and marketing process. If the EPC was moved as is feared, this would potentially remove the information which could be utilised to help make an informed decision on a properties energy efficiency and anticipated fuel bills. This area is becoming increasingly important to consumers as predictions of fuel and energy prices  continue to rise.

Energy Performance Certificates were discussed during a recent NHBC Election Lecture with Grant Shapps MP and can be seen at about 39 mins 30 secs into the lecture.

Jenny Holland, Head of the Parliamentary Team at the Association for the Conservation of Energy, put Grant Shapps on the spot about his previously stated intention to downgrade EPCs, only requiring them to be produced by the end of the sales process, rather than being a legal requirement at the time a home is placed on the market.

Speaking after the event, Jenny said that she remained unsatisfied by the Shadow Housing Minister’s response:

“I invited Mr Shapps to agree with me that in order to build awareness of energy efficiency and climate change issues among the general public we must make sure they have as much information as possible to enable them to make informed choices about the homes they buy on the basis of their energy performance and the fuel bills they can anticipate paying.

I told him that, in my view, his intention to downgrade EPCs would have the very opposite effect. Unfortunately his answer did nothing to convince me that he has seen the light – and I fear that an incoming Tory Government will carry on with their damaging plans to shunt EPCs to the very end of the sales process, thereby denying homebuyers the chance to make informed choices about the homes they buy.

I continue to press the Tory front bench on this issue at every available opportunity – and I would urge everyone else to do likewise.”

It is interesting and duly noted, that prominent property related orgainsations we have recently highlighted are keen to increase and improve regulation and raise standards.  These intentions do seem to be in conflict with a degree of present Conservative party policy. The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) for example is campaigning for increased regulation; and the NHBC Lecture showcased its ‘tagline’ –  ‘Raising standards to protect home owners’.

There does seem to be some agreement amongst professionals that regulation and providing information upfront at the point of interest (i.e. first day of marketing) within the property industry as with many other industries; does improve consumer protection and informed decision making. However, the Conservative policies on HIPs and EPCs do seem to go against this belief, but with so little detail it does remain unclear on certain aspects.

Imagine….

The food industry saying, ‘Yes, we will provide nutritonal information regarding food, but only once you have bought it, or even better once you have eaten it.’

The car industry saying, ‘Of course we will tell you what tax band the vehicle is in and the MPG you can anticipate, but we need you to committ to buying first.’

The local school saying, ‘Yes, there was an OfSted report recently carried out on our school, but before you can read it we need you to enrol your child in our school.’

An appliance retailer saying, ‘Yes, we have the energy rating of this fridge. We will give you details once you have paid at the till.’

We have invited Grants Shapp’s office to respond to the points raised throughout the article and specifically clarify when EPCs would be required if they did win the election. Of course we will update you as and when we recieve it.


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16 Responses to “Grant Shapps to change Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) delivery?”

  1. Interesting article, concluded with some apt analogies!

    Placing the EPC’s the end of the sales process is a step backwards in regards to energy awareness. How can Tory MP’s possibly argue that this is in the consumer’s best interest?

  2. The analogies seem to have be received quite well, we would love to hear any more you may have, though obviously they must be publishable

  3. How about – imagine only being told a politicians real policies after the election.

  4. EPCs are totally useless. They are so vague that they’re completely useless when it comes to working out fuel bills. So I need a £60, multipage document to tell me a house with singel glazing will cost more to heat than one with double glazing? Wow, what a revelation!

    EPCs make so many assumptions that they’re mostly meaningless. I’ve seen how thy’re done and it’s mainly based on completely arbitrary dates. E.g. if built after date x we will assume it has x thickness of insulation in the roof – they don’t even have a look! Many assumptions are made on the look of the building. EPC assessors have merely been trained to use software and make a few assumptions, they’re not surveyors who actually know about buildings.

  5. Brilliant blog as always. EPCs are far from useless and they will get better as the 20 min EPCers move on and the hardcore survive and diversify.

  6. In reply to Jamie.
    I’m glad you mention surveyors in your diatribe Jamie. Have you not read the long list of exceptions and limitations that is at the end of any survey?
    I recently had a full survey and a structural survey done on my house.
    This was non-invasive ( as an EPC is), ie they didn’t cut into walls, roofs etc etc. So what did they base their report on?, That’s right the age of the property or extension, the building regs it complied with, and a visual inspection based on their experience.
    ie very similar to an EPC (though looking at different things).
    Also Jamie, an EPC is an ASSET rating, it looks at the house only. For the very simple reason that people move/die/change their habits !
    MR A, lives alone and could be very good at turning his light/heating off.
    Mr B moves in next year with his 4 kids, turns the heating right up and never switches lights off.
    In this scenario we’ve achieved nothing.
    An EPC is not there to help you work out your fuel bills Jamie (try using a calculator for that!), it is a means to compare all housing against each other, thereby building up a picture of the worst performing ones and the likely reasons why they are performing badly. Only then can you begin to take action in making them preform better.
    No they are not perfect, (nothing is), but they are a long way from useless and getting better all the time.

  7. If the Tories were elected. they would NOT put the EPC at the rear of the selling process. It would stay as it is have this in writing from Grant Shapps.

  8. Hi Nigel,

    We have looked where you suggested and see no evidence of intent from Grant Shapps. Have you listened to the NHBC lecture?

    We have had acknowledgement from Grant Shapps’s office that they have received our request for clarification and will post as and when we receive it.

    If you have a written statement Nigel from Grant Shapps office we would be interested in reading it.

  9. Trust you have now received the email from Grant Shapps etc which I forwarded?

  10. Hi Nigel,

    Many thanks for the information which is gratefully received. Further details on Nigel’s website can be found here http://www.homesmatter.co.uk

    It must be noted that the information is from approx June 2009 and we seek confirmation whether this is still current Conservative policy.

    The information indicates the Conservatives change in policy from the EPCs only being required at the end of the marketing process to a point similar to dates before 6th April 2009.

    There is subtle differences between how EPCs are/were implemented prior to 6th April 2009 and they are now; which did give rise to abuse of the system which was removed when EPCs were required before marketing could legally commence.

    EPCs are required at the start of the process at present. What is being possibly suggested (but is not clear in our minds) is that an EPC must be ordered but NOT in place at the start.

  11. We have received the initial response from Grant Shapps’s office and are now awaiting further additional clarification in regard to the supplied response.

  12. you have to say well done to Grant Shapps for their engagement, it is commendable.

    However, i will await to see their response and whether it actually answers any questions on this subject. One must ask is partial transparency and honesty actually transparency and honesty.

  13. Grant Shapps is known for his interest and knowledge in the internet, and the power it holds, hence the interest. Politicians are wanting to market themselves, with an election, never is it so important.

    Labour could take a leaf out of Shapp’s book for sure in this regard. The problem they have and this is not just Shapps and housing is that it is all well and good saying we will give you detail on issues, but then not being prepared to do so.

    The saving caveat seems to be accross the board for the tories we need to be in governent before we give you the full details.

  14. […] Grant Shapps to change Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) delivery? […]

  15. Hi,
    Thank you for an interesting article.
    Regards,
    Mike Bridges

  16. I concur with Paul in his response to Jamie’s rather ill considered understanding of matters related to not only the EPC for ewxisting dwellings, but also the broadly similar approach taken when carrying out non invasive HBS surveys.

    It may well be that Jamie has had a bad experience though, and we should give him room if this were the case. I have personally been in the building and construction industry for over 20 years and now carry out SAPs, EPCs, for new and existing dwellings as well as commercial and public building energy surveys.

    To say heat loss is commonsense is anything but the truth, thermal imaging cameras are now at a reasonable cost level to be used in main stream surveying…and Oh my word what I have uncovered…

    If the planet had commonsense it would evict us all!!

    Finally Jamie, if your Assessor did not “look” in the roof space report him/her to their Accreditation Body the details can be found in the report next to the Assessors contact details…standards must be maintained.

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