When you’re looking to buy or rent a property, you’ll want to know how energy efficient it is: how much your monthly energy bill will be; how large your household’s carbon footprint and impact on the environment will be; if those stunning, single-glazed Art Deco windows mean your radiators will be running on high and you’ll still be shivering in February.
Luckily, you won’t have to resort to guesswork to determine the energy efficiency and running costs of a potential home.
Every residential property you look to purchase or rent in the UK is required to have an Energy Performance Certificate, or EPC, an assessment that grades its energy efficiency rating, much as home appliances are graded, and tells you its estimated running costs. It will even rate specific elements of your home according to their energy efficiency, alerting you to where improvements could be made to boost efficiency.
When Do You Need an Energy Performance Certificate?
If you’re selling or renting out a property, it must have a valid EPC, or one issued within the last 10 years. Landlords will need to show them to potential tenants, owners will have to present them to prospective home buyers, and developers will have to post them for new buildings.
It’s been the law to have EPCs for properties since 2008, or 2009 in Scotland, so any property sold or rented within the last decade should have one. The government runs a national registry of EPCs, where you check the rating of your property (and those of your neighbours, to snoop and also to see if they’re really saving money with their cavity wall insulation), unless you opt out (to stop those prying neighbours).
There are some properties that are exempt from EPCs, including some listed buildings where double glazing and other efficiency measures cannot be installed and holiday homes let out or occupied for less than four months a year. Additionally, you won’t need an EPC if you’re a resident landlord renting out a room in your home.
To obtain an EPC for a property, you’ll need to arrange a visit from accredited domestic energy assessor. There’s no set fee for EPCs: costs start a £35 but can be much higher for large properties and in large cities.
If you try to sell or rent a property without a valid EPC to fail to give it to tenants or buyers, you can be charged £200. And from April 2018, landlords are required to achieve a minimum E rating on any property let out, or face a £4,000 fine.
Additionally, in Scotland you must display the EPC somewhere on the property: next to the boiler or in the meter cupboard is standard.
What’s Included on an Energy Performance Certificate?
- Energy efficiency rating: Your home will be rated A to G, with A given to the most efficient properties, modern homes built to new standards and with good insulation, and G to the least efficient, usually draughty older properties with single-glazing. The property will also be given a number, from 1 to 100, that correlates with the letter grading. The higher the number, the more energy efficient the property will be and the less you’ll pay on your gas and electricity tariff. For example, A-rated properties have ratings of 92+. You’ll receive a rating—alphabetical and numerical for your property as it currently is and one for how it could score, if improvements were made.
- Estimated energy costs: The EPC will also contain estimates of how much it will cost to heat and power your home over three years, with separate figures for the lighting, heating, and hot water. You’ll also see how much your energy costs would be if you made improvements to boost its energy rating to the the potential one displayed, and how much you could save over three years.
- Summary of energy performance related features: Here elements of your home, from the walls and roof to the lighting, will be given energy efficient ratings out of five stars, so you can identify where you should make changes to save kilowatt hours and money on your energy bill—not to mention CO2. The elements assessed in the summary include: the walls (the type and what insulation is present), roof (if it’s flat or pitched and the insulation), floor, windows (double or single glazing), main heating (boilers or electric heaters), main heating controls (whether you have a thermostat, timer, etc.), any secondary heating, the hot water, and lighting (if low energy lighting is in place and at one percentage of outlets).