Fears over inaccurate energy efficiency ratings

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Fears that 100,000 homes could have been given incorrect energy efficiency ratings have been raised by the Residential Landlords Association.
New figures from the Building Research Establishment have shown that Energy Performance Certificates can understate the energy efficiency of homes with solid walls and uninsulated cavity walls.

Fears that 100,000 homes could have been given incorrect energy efficiency ratings have been raised by the Residential Landlords Association.

New figures from the Building Research Establishment have shown that Energy Performance Certificates can understate the energy efficiency of homes with solid walls and uninsulated cavity walls.

The BRE claims that 100,000 properties have been given incorrect F and G classifications – the lowest ratings possible.

The RLA is now campaigning for greater accuracy when it comes to allocating the ratings and is in talks with the Government over the issue.

The news comes as the Government has given a target date for energy efficiency compliance in rental properties.

By April 2018 it will be unlawful to let out a property with an F or G Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating, i.e. a new let, although  there will be some limited exemptions.

It is understood the Government then hopes to introduce a minimum E rating , not just to new lets but also to existing tenancies, with plans to introduce a minimum C rating moving forward over the next 15 years.

Richard Jones, policy adviser and company secretary said: “At the RLA we have major concerns around the accuracy of EPCs, particularly as these form the basis for the new compulsion requirements imposing a minimum E banding from 2018 onwards, starting with new lets and moving onto existing lets.

“The BRE estimates that around 100,000 properties have an incorrect F and G rating so these ratings should be better than they are.

“This means some of those currently rated at the lowest banding Band G ought to be reclassified as Band F and quite a number of those that are in Band F do in fact meet the Band E requirement.

“We are making repeated representations to the Government on this issue because we firmly believe that EPCs must be accurate before compulsion is brought in.”

Mr Jones said that landlords need to look to the future to establish the best way of implementing improvements.

He said: “If you carry out improvements piece by piece, going first to Band E and then subsequently Band D and then onto Band C a different approach is required than if you carry out a whole house improvement to go straight to Band C from the outset.

“In the past the RLA has commissioned research to help landlords and is going to undertake further investigations once the accuracy of the EPCs issue is satisfactorily resolved.

“Energy efficiency in the private rented sector is very much in the Government’s sights at the moment and the RLA will keep our members up dated with any further developments on the issue.”

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.


  • What brought our newly converted apartments down in banding was the fact that the latest technology energy saving electric thermostatic heaters were not recognised on the Assessors sheet and went down as if they were basic economy 7! When the Assessor raised this with us we asked him to feedback our dissatisfaction. Also we were asked to preserve the period building features by the Heritage Officer, so some Apartments did not have the insulation to the walls to protect the elaborate coving, once again this went against us on the EPC so an allowance should be made as standard in these situations.

    The new legislation would be unfair based on the current Assessments.

    • Listed buildings are exempt from the requirement to have an EPC, I don’t know if this applies to Carolyn’s property but sounds as though it may if the Heritage Officer has been involved

  • Good to have official confirmation of something I have known for sometime as a landlord of older period properties. Not so good that I have been forced to hand over what now amounts to a four figure sum for potentially useless certificates when the money could have actually been used to improve energy efficiency. The vast majority of what is covered could be dealt with by a simple check list to educate tenants combined with an online database to cover things such as efficiency of a particular boiler. That, however, would upset the dear old EU policy machine, and cut a vast swathe of bureaucrats and self employed ‘Energy Inspectors’ out of the loop.

  • The idea that the nation’s Victoria-era building stock can ever be brought up to Band C by 2030 is very worrying. There is only a limited amount of improvement that can be achieved via new boilers, loft insulation and so on, so the only way to achieve Band C in a solid-wall building is through dramatic amounts of intervention in terms of wall insulation. This will either lead to considerably smaller rooms (and massive disruption) if done internally, or the external appearance of the houses being ruined, with decorative historic brickwork and other valued period features lost to either rendered walls or modern brick slips mounted on insulation boards. Do we want to see our attractive Victorian streets pockmarked with out-of-keeping new external wall treatments, just like the hideous stone cladding of the 1980s? These ludicrous rules will ruin our housing heritage and cost tens of thousands of pounds per house, all for the sake of a few hundred pounds savings per year in heat losses and to satisfy the consciences of a few Green zealots. These Greens focus on instilling guilt and recrimination in the minds of private individual citizens, persuading them that global warming “is all our fault”, while the rest of the world continues to burn fossil fuels with gay abandon, or concentrates sensibly on where the real carbon savings can be made, namely in heat-inefficient industry, transportation and energy transmission. Housing is a relatively small contribution to the UK’s carbon cost, so it is ludicrous to insist on this cultural vandalism across the entire nation when there are so many other situations where energy savings can be made instead.

    • Thank you Tony. As the owners of a cottage, parts of which are 300 plus years old, we will be in the position of having to stop renting when it is no longer legal due to the EPC rating. To increase the EPC rating will involve not only prohibitive expense but would completely ruin the character of the property.

    • Hear, hear Tony and everyone else. I quite agree about EC meddlers intimidation techniques and pointless job creation schemes to swindle us out of our money. I have always lived in Victorian properties, lovely high ceilings and great big rooms and windows. Not nasty little modern rabbit hutches, When I was a child, we had a coal fire in one room, hot water once a week, and coats on our beds. Did me no harm. I loved the Jack Frost on the windows. I wear warm clothers and prefer it not to be tropical indoors in the winter. Everyone else’s house is far too warm, and they’re all wearing T-shirts, it’s madness! Turn the heating down and save money that way!!
      I have always had a horror of cavity wall insulation, and have never put it into any of my houses, nor do I ever intend to, as I am convinced that it prevents the air circulation in the walls and causes condensation. Then you get black mould, eugh, the spores of which are fouly unhealthy. Better cold than mould is my entrenched opinion. Filling up the cavities, even with natural fibres, is irreversible. They will be soon tearing down buildings destroyed by foam cavity wall insulation. By the same token, I have tried as far as possible to restore the wooden soffits and fascia boards, rather than go down the plasticky route. Plastic that is exposed to the elements goes brittle, and will not last the 80 years that the wood has lasted. I am already replacing plastic guttering that was installed not 10 years ago, the original ironwork lasted 80 years. Why they make garden furniture out of plastic beats me: when it goes brittle, it’s dangerous! Modern man-made materials are absolutely not the panacea they are made out to be.

  • Do you have a link to the original BRE research showing the inaccuracy and has there been any recent updates to the government’s response?

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