The short answer is, “Any way they like.” As long as they record the data accurately it really doesn’t matter.
When EPC Bromley first started doing EPCs in 2012, there wasn’t a choice. The data had to be input into a database on a computer to do the calculations eventually, but it’s impractical to carry laptop around with you whilst you do a survey. The data was therefore collected on a preprepared form and input later in the day.
The initial accreditation company that EPC Bromley used didn’t even have the facility to enter the data online in 2012! Instead you had to download software which barely functioned and submit it onto there. We changed accreditation companies very quickly to one which had an online facility!
Still, writing all the information down on paper and then sitting down later to type the same information onto a database is still a massive waste of time. Mobile data collection had been around for a long time when EPC accreditation bodies started to consider solutions for themselves. To say they were behind the times is an understatement!
When apps were eventually produced for iPad and iPhone they were awful. They needed a perfect phone signal, so useless for rural areas, and some of them still needed to be plugged in later so the data could be uploaded.
EPC Bromley’s first experience of using an iPad instead of paper resulted in a one hour survey lasting three hours. This was an experience which meant that we stuck with pencil and paper for another two years.
In 2016 we gave the digital version another try. Ideally we wanted to trial multiple versions but we hit a snag. We had traded in iPads for large screened iPhones and MacBooks as they were more practical, unfortunately the majority of accreditation companies had only designed software fit for iPads. In the end we only had two choices.
The first company (who shall remain nameless), had software that was provided by a third party, to describe it as poor would be generous. Exactly the same problems as before, parts either overly complicated or overly simplified and elements of it just not functioning correctly. Again pen, paper and a later input was quicker.
We then trialled the iPhone app available from Elmhurst. Straightaway it functioned exactly how it should. The survey order was logical, reminders for photos worked well and not only could you submit it and receive the EPC in seconds, you could upload all evidence and set it as ready for audit immediately. This reduced the office work by 100%, surely the very point of doing it on site in the first place?!
The only thing that we have to use pen and paper for is the drawings to establish the volume of the property. There are apps available to do this on the iPhone but in the experience of EPC Bromley, these only work accurately when you’re in a house with absolutely no furniture. So in reality they aren’t particularly practical.
Once these apps are perfected however, EPC Bromley looks forward to dispensing with the paper altogether!