UCL Energy Institute


Fully funded PhD studentship on why EPC predictions don't agree with metered energy consumption

20 December 2022

Applications are now open for a proposed studentship 'Why don’t EPC predictions agree with metered energy consumption?', as part of 60 studentships to be awarded by the UCL EPSRC DTP.

Image of EPC rating bands A-G

About the project

Project title: Why don’t EPC predictions agree with metered energy consumption?
Project supervisors: Professor Tadj OreszczynDr Jessica FewMichelle Shipworth
Project ID: 2228bd1185 (You will need this ID for your application)

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are a cornerstone of domestic energy demand policy. However, recent work identifies a systematic over-prediction by the EPC model, with an increasing discrepancy in lower efficiency bands (bands D-G), suggesting that many homes could be in the wrong EPC band. This potentially affects their value, potential to access grants for energy efficiency improvements (such as the new ECO+ scheme), and fuel poverty classification (A-C homes cannot be classed as in fuel poverty). Moreover, the implications for the current government ambition that all homes are upgraded to EPC-C by 2035 are currently unclear. It is therefore imperative that reasons for the discrepancy are understood, and improvements made in a timely manner. Moreover, the current government attention via the EPC Action Plan means this an opportune moment to pursue this research.  

This PhD would seek to identify causes of the discrepancy and identify practical improvements to the EPC process. Depending on the strengths and interests of the candidate, the research could be purely technical or include sociotechnical aspects. Technical work could explore the effect of the use of default values in the EPC model, the breakdown of energy demand for different uses including heating, hot water, and appliance use, or quantification of the impact of mis-rating homes. Moreover, the process of rating a home is complex sociotechnical phenomenon in which the EPC assessors and the customers play a key (but often overlooked) role. A sociotechnical dimension could seek to understand how EPC assessors use the assessment methodology in practice and help to identify steps for improving the practical implementation of EPC assessment process.  

The analysis would align with ongoing research interests within the Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL) team and would tap into SERL Observatory dataset – an innovative dataset which includes linked smart meter, EPC, sociotechnical survey, and weather data.

About the Supervisory Team

Professor Tadj Oreszczyn is a building physicis who has supervised over 20 PhD students, 15 as first supervisor. Tadj is currently PI on the EDOL and SERL EPSRC projects which generate the data core to this PhD. The EDOL contract starts January 2023 for 5 years, so EDOL staff can provide support throughout the PhD. 

Dr Jessica Few is an expert in domestic energy demand and building physics. She is currently actively pursuing EPC research working with the SERL dataset on related issues and has recently submitted a research paper that defines the challenges that EPCs face. She also has relevant experience of combining technical and sociotechnical research methods.

Michelle Shipworth, Associate Professor, UCL Energy Institute studies the human dimension of home energy use: behaviours, social influences and the interaction of these with technologies and buildings. Michelle has supervised to completion 4 PhD students. Relevant to this PhD are: one on the gap between commercial buildings’ energy performance as designed and in use, plus the role of plumbers in determining the  central heating systems that householders install. 

Key information

Funder: UCL ESPRC DTP studentship
Value: Fees, Stipend (at least £20,668 per year), Research Training Support Grant
Duration: Up to 4 years (thesis to be submitted within funded period)
Eligible Fee Status: Home, International (EPSRC caps the total number of funded International fee status students across UCL for this award at 30%)
Study Mode: Full or Part time (at least 50% FTE) [Note: Part time is not available to International students]
Primary Selection Criteria: Academic merit
Project ID: 2228bd1185 (You will need this ID for your application)
Application Deadline: 12:00 on 26 January 2023

How to apply

This PhD Studentship topic is one of 19 proposed by The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources to a competition for approximately 60 studentships that will be awarded across UCL as part of the UCL EPSRC DTP. Prospective students are welcome to apply for up to 5 potential studentships - see the full list of projects from our department and the UCL project database for a comprehensive list across the university. The 60 successful proposals will be chosen following applicant interviews.

Before applying, all applicants must read the full eligibility criteria and application guidance on the UCL EPSRC DTP website. There is a 3-part application process, with a deadline of the 26 January 2023 to complete the third part of the application.