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A-B-C? Easy as EPC - Improving consumer understanding of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

Scotland has set some of the most determined climate goals in the world, and home energy efficiency has a large role to play in Scotland’s transition to a low or no carbon society.

The Scottish Government has set ambitious goals for Scotland’s housing stock, which will be measured by a home’s energy efficiency rating as described in an energy performance certificate (EPC). However, consumer knowledge of EPCs is low, and even though they contain recommendations on how to make a home more energy efficient, they seem to be a poor motivational tool. 

CAS commissioned Changeworks to gather feedback about how EPCs are viewed, understood, and interacted with by consumers, and how they could be improved to be better understood and more motivational. 

Through a combination of ISM workshops and online testing, research found that: 

  • Many people view energy efficiency as a luxury for those who can afford it 

  • Barriers to home energy efficiency improvements are essentially cost and hassle.  

  • EPCs are not considered useful, and most homeowners just put them in a drawer 

  • People who consider themselves highly environmentally conscious are no more likely to know their home energy efficiency rating or be familiar with an EPC than someone who is disengaged with environmental issues (value-intention gap) 

  • People are mainly motivated by cost, but social desirability plays a large role as well. People may be more motivated by the cost of not acting than potential fuel bill savings, especially if this is linked to Scotland’s carbon targets or the climate emergency 

  • A 1-2-3 style EPC, designed like a home report, may be easier for consumers to understand and engage with 

  • Consumers value simplicity and colour, but for many the preferred style and layout was subjective. Energy efficiency advice accompanying an EPC is crucial to ensure consumers understand the document and are able to make the choices most suitable to their property 

Author
Emily Rice
Publication date
July 2020
Publication type
Policy
Spotlight