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Survey Suggests Homebuyers Overlook Energy Labels

By Laura Elahi on March 2, 2011

A survey carried out by Consumer Focus has revealed that the majority of homebuyers ignore energy labels when purchasing properties.

Energy labels, or energy performance certificates (EPC), must be provided to prospective new tenants or homebuyers when a property is made available for rent or put up for sale.

An EPC displays an A-G rating of a home’s energy efficiency, which is usually thought to be of interest to new tenants and buyers, however, the Consumer Focus survey revealed that 79 per cent of homebuyers who were in receipt of an EPC did not act on any of its recommendations.

EPCs are useful in both an environmental and financial context. In terms of helping to reduce carbon emissions, an EPC recommends which steps ought to be taken to improve energy efficiency in the home. Financially speaking, an EPC’s recommendations can help homebuyers make savings by ensuring that less energy needs to be spent on heating the home.

Energy efficiency savings may include the installation of a new condensing gas central heating boiler,  double glazing or cavity wall insulation. Lofts can also be insulated and old thermostats replaced to improve energy efficiency. Yet, according to Consumer Focus, homebuyers are ignoring EPC recommendations.

An energy expert at Consumer Focus, Liz Lainé, said: “Our survey shows that energy efficiency can influence people when choosing a new home. But the information in the EPC is not helping people act on those concerns. With the ‘Green Deal’ just around the corner, these certificates must become a trigger for action, not just a sheet at the bottom of a huge pile of home-buying paperwork.”

Aside from the issue of whether or not homebuyers are all that interested in EPC recommendations, the Consumer Focus survey of 2,000 people revealed a disturbing statistic: just under 50 per cent of buyers who had moved into new properties in the past couple of years had not received an EPC. The survey also revealed that landlords very often fail to provide new tenants with an EPC.

Consumer Focus has called on the Government to equip trading standards with new powers of enforcement to ensure that every tenant and homebuyer receives an EPC.