An energy performance certificate (EPC) is now a requirement if you are a selling, renting or building a property in the UK
If you're looking at buying or renting a new property one of the biggest financial impacts over the course of your home's lifetime will be energy, particularly with energy costs seemingly going up all the time. But how can you tell how much energy your new home will consume?
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That's where energy performance certificates, or EPCs, come in.
Find out what info it contains, how you can get one and how an EPC certificate can save you money.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
An EPC certificate tells you how energy efficient your property is, just like the multi-coloured stickers you see on new domestic appliances tell you how energy efficient the appliance is. The ratings vary from "G", the most inefficient rating indicated with a red colour, and all the way up to "A", meaning very efficient and shown as dark green.
The purpose of the EPC certificate is to give you an indication of how much it will cost you to heat and light the property, and how much CO2 the property emits.
What else can it tell me?
It also crucially tells buyers or renters what changes they can make to improve the efficiency of the property to reduce their bills. This could include everything from adding insulation to switching to energy-saving light bulbs.
The idea behind an EPC is both to inform you of what you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your property, and hence save money, and also to show how attractive the property is from an energy perspective for potential buyers.
The better the rating the lower the cost of running the property.
How to read an EPC
An EPC should be clear and easy to understand. The address at the top of the document should be correct, while elements such as Date of Assessment, Date of Certificate, Reference Number and Total Floor Area should all be fairly self-explanatory. The Type of Assessment field will show either SAP or RDSAP - these are the two types of assessment methodology, where RDSAP stands for Reduced SAP and is a cheaper assessment method.
The next section indicates potential costs and potential savings based on the thermal coverage of the floor, walls and roof of the property. This is then extrapolated to produce the energy efficient rating, which should be at the bottom of the report.
What are the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards?
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) came into force on 1st April 2018 and set new energy efficiency regulations for private rented properties throughout the UK. It is designed to highlight low standards of energy efficiency in properties in a bid to get landlords to take measures to raise them.
With the MEES in force, the lowest rating a privately rented property is allowed to achieve is an “E” - anything rated at “F” or “G” is not allowed to be rented out.
The landlord will be required to make these improvements bring a property’s rating up to “E” to a maximum of £3,500. If the property cannot be improved to that point without spending more than £3,500, they will be able to apply for an exemption.
What is the EPC register?
The EPC register both stores existing certificates and allows homeowners to find a registered domestic energy assessor to conduct a review of their property.
It also allows anyone having an energy performance review undertaken to check whether the inspector is properly accredited.
Once a property has a certificate, it is placed on the EPC register, where certificates can be easily retrieved. EPC certificates are valid on a property for 10 years.
How do I get an EPC certificate?
If you need an energy performance certificate for your home, you can visit the Landmark website to find a registered domestic assessor in your area.
You can also search through the EPC certificate ratings of other properties in your area for free. This will help you compare your property’s rating to others in the area — all you need is the post code.
Can an EPC certificate save me money?
As well as telling you what measures to undertake, new EPC certificates give far more detail on the potential cost of upgrading your heating, lighting and water.
It also tells you the savings you can make on your bills after you’ve made the upgrades, to give you a cost comparison.
You’ll also be able to see the total savings you could make on your property and the EPC rating you’ll receive after the upgrades.
Additionally, the MEES is good news for tenants because it should see energy costs become lower in the long run. With better insulation, more energy-efficient lighting and other measures taken to improve the energy efficiency of the property, you should end up paying less in energy costs. However, you should still ensure that you're switching your supplier whenever you feel as though you may be paying too much for your gas and electricity.
How much do EPCs cost?
It costs between £60 and £120 to get your property on the EPC register. Since costs vary, it is worth shopping around and comparing a few different quotes — as long as you make sure your assessor is registered.
You can often lower the energy performance certificate cost by getting your assessment done directly rather than through an estate agent. You can find an assessor in your area by checking on the EPD register.
Does my property need an EPC certificate?
If you are looking to sell or rent your property then you absolutely need an EPC certificate. The only exceptions are specialised buildings, such as churches, temporary buildings and listed properties.
For the full list of exempt buildings see the government’s dedicated EPC site.
However, even if you’re not intending on selling your property, getting an EPC certificate is a cheap and quick way to assess the energy-saving potential of your property.
Bear in mind that a lot of newer properties may already have an EPC certificate, and may also be very energy efficient.
Prospective landlords looking to rent their property must also have an EPC available for tenants to view. If they fail to produce one, they could face a fine.
The only other situation where you need an EPC certificate is if you are looking to receive payments under the Feed-in Tariff scheme for solar panels. Your property must have an EPC rating of ‘D’ or higher to be eligible for Feed-in Tariff payments at the standard rate.
How can you improve your home's EPC rating?
It's in your interests, whether selling or buying, to lower the EPC rating of your property as much as possible, and the only way to do that is to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Simple steps like ensuring you have adequate loft insulation installed, investigating whether cavity-wall insulation is suitable for your property, and installing draught-proofing measures around doors, windows, fireplaces and letterboxes, should be your first steps. Read more in our simple guide to home insulation.
When do I need an EPC?
An EPC is legally required whenever a property is constructed, sold or rented. There’s a fixed penalty of £200 for not obtaining one when it is needed.
Can you fail an EPC?
It’s not possible to fail an EPC, but it is possible for a property to be given a rating of “G”, which is the lowest rating and indicates that the property is extremely energy-inefficient. Any property rating “G” would need to take major steps to improve the rating to at least “E”, which is the minimum rating specified under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards.
How often do you need an EPC?
An EPC is valid for ten years, but once it has expired, there is no legal requirement to renew until the property is either let to new tenants or sold.
What if I have questions about my EPC?
There are various resources online for those who have questions about an EPC. Three of the key places to look are: