Identifying EPC opportunities for social landlords

Mark Sreeves

In this article Mark Sreeves, consultant for National Energy Services, looks at how Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) data can inform improvement works in social housing.

What is the value of an Energy Performance Certificate?

There is an argument that says that EPCs in social housing don’t really benefit anyone. Potential tenants are going to make a decision about whether they accept a property based on a number of very practical reasons, for example:

  • Have they currently got somewhere to live?
  • Where is the property they are being offered?
  • If they turn it down, how likely are they going to be offered another property?

The energy efficiency of a property is likely to come fairly low down on the list of priorities, though with rising fuel costs this may well change.

On average, social housing properties are more energy efficient than those that are privately rented or for sale. Many social landlords have focussed on improving the energy efficiency of their housing stock over a number of years either as a Best Value Performance Indicator, as part of the Regulatory Statistical Return, or as a target set internally. The impact of this focussed tracking and target setting is illustrated in the English Housing Headline Survey Report 2008-09 where social housing properties are averaging a SAP of 59 compared with private sector properties (owner-occupied and private rented) reaching an average SAP of 50.

Should social landlords be complacent?

The short answer to this is no, and it’s certainly not an attitude that I have encountered when dealing with social landlords. Nonetheless there is, to some extent, a perceived wisdom that says that social landlords have filled all the cavities and lofts in their stock with insulation. If this were the case you would perhaps expect that EPC recommendations for these measures in properties under social housing management would be few and far between, as these are measures that are seen as basic, relatively cheap and easy to implement, and addressed under the Decent Homes programme.

This is where data from EPCs come in. It was a bit of a surprise when we undertook some analysis of EPC data for England and Wales held by the NHER Accreditation Scheme to find out that the potential for further energy efficiency measures was much higher than we had envisaged.

Social housing providers have been obliged to issue EPCs for their properties for just over two years, and the NHER Accreditation Scheme has been collecting records throughout this period. We have a database of over 1 million records that we were able to analyse. Of these, 175,000 are social rented properties, so we looked in more detail at this sub-set of properties. Below you can see data for levels of loft insulation and cavity fill.

Breakdown of loft insulation in social housing properties Breakdown of cavity wall insulation in social housing properties

Click on an image to view a larger version.

What does this mean, and what should social landlords do?

Certainly the number of dwellings with the potential for these two measures surprised us, although they are significantly lower than the equivalent numbers in the private sector. Nonetheless, it illustrates the potential for what can be done relatively simply to continually improve energy efficiency in social housing. From our experience there are a number of actions that you can take to see if you can benefit from this kind of analysis:

  • Are you collecting and recording EPC/RDSAP data, not just the certificate?
  • Do you incorporate this information into your asset management system/energy database?
  • Are you periodically reviewing this data to review/identify potential improvements?
  • Do you use the good quality energy data collected as part of an EPC not only to reflect itself but also similar properties?

We have worked with social landlords who use EPC information to act as a trigger to undertake improvement works and automatically pass on information to the contractors. Once the work has been undertaken the changes are recorded in the asset management system/energy database.

What can I do today?

If you want more information about how you can adopt this approach, or how we might be able to assist you in doing this, please email Paul Holmes or telephone 01908 442218.

This article originally appeared in issue 11 of NHER Social Housing News. You can subscribe here to receive regular copies straight to your inbox.

The views expressed in this blog article are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of National Energy Services.  When submitting a comment, please be aware of the guidelines provided in our website terms and conditions.



I have recently been told a family turned down a large flat as it had storage heating and they felt they would not be able to keep themselves warm enough
so some are taking notice more than others

one thing i do get asked is why are we not allowed to get our lofts done?? we would get it for free
It seems social landlords are reluctant to give permission to any tenant that asked if they can get loft insulation top ups or cavity wall insulation and its the tenant that has to pay the fuel bills so why is there this reluctance??
and now when all their budgets have been slashed one would think they would be happy to have some socially responsible tenants

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