UCL Energy Institute


Prof Paul Ruyssevelt talks to The Sunday Times about Energy Performance Certificates for houses

25 June 2019

UCL Energy Deputy Director Prof Paul Ruyssevelt was asked to comment on the impact of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) on the housing market for an article in the paper’s Home section.

EPC energy performance map of central London

On Sunday 23 June The Sunday Times published a feature in their Home section entitled ‘How to get an energy performance certificate’. They interviewed Professor Paul Ruyssevelt for his expert knowledge on the effects of EPCs on house prices and the use of EPC data in understanding energy efficiency in the housing stock. 

What are EPCs?

Anyone selling a property in England and Wales is required to obtain an EPC before putting it on the market. It allows the potential buyer to work out what the energy running costs of the property are likely to be, with ratings from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). Since their launch twelve years ago, almost 20 million certificates have been issued. The assessments cost between £50 and £100, and are carried out by a domestic energy assessor (DEA). The government has recently been looking into how the scheme might be improved. 

What has their effect been on the housing market?

According to research cited by Professor Paul Ruyssevelt, homes with an A-B rating can attract a 5% premium, or £10,000 on average. “Although the ratings can be seen to be influencing the market a bit, it’s still not a top priority for buyers,” he says. The premium for Band C homes is lower, at around 1.8%.

How could EPCs help meet UK carbon emission-reduction targets?

With domestic dwellings contributing 23% of UK carbon emissions, inproving energy efficiency in homes will clearly be necessary in helping the UK meet its target to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. However, because the criteria for EPCs are so standardised, the data may not be suffficient when making substantial improvements to individual homes: “Anyone seriously considering an energy efficient retrofit to their home would do well to consider to a specialised surveyor”, says Professor Ruyssevelt. But because so many EPCs have been issued, they now provide an invaluable source of data on overall energy consumption in the UK housing stock, which can be used to inform energy policy at local and national levels. For example, ministers are considering changing stamp duty in a way that would favour homes with better EPC ratings.

The article also references the current work of the Building Stock Lab at the UCL Energy Institute: “At UCL we are currently building a map of London which uses EPC data to show energy consumption in every London home within the M25 area. The Mayor of London, who commissioned the map, will use it to focus improvements that will reduce fuel poverty and help London hit its carbon reduction targets.”

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