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What is an EPC?

Power stationIf you’re planning to sell or rent out a home in the UK, you have to pay for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). EPCs give prospective buyers or tenants some indication of how energy efficient a property is, and the certificates are required by law.

With gas and electricity prices rising at an alarming rate, and increasing concern about our carbon footprint, the EPC provides a simple snapshot of how expensive a home is likely to be to run, and whether there is any potential for reducing its environmental impact.

In England and Wales, the EPC was originally introduced as part of the short-lived Home Information Pack (HIP) scheme. But even though David Cameron’s new government scrapped HIPs shortly after being elected in 2010, the EPC requirement was maintained because it was part of a European Union directive.

What is in an Energy Performance Certificate?

An EPC provides information about a wide range of factors to give a picture of your home’s energy efficiency. These include:

  • Your heating system: do you have an efficient boiler and central heating system? Is hot water stored, or is it heated on demand?
  • Insulation: do you have cavity wall insulation? How thick are your walls? Do you have double- or single-glazing?
  • Lighting: do you use energy-saving lightbulbs?
  • Do you generate any of your own energy, for example using a wind turbine or solar panels with a micro-generator? These factors will be collated to give your property an energy-efficiency rating, calculated out of 100, and broken down into seven bands, A-G. This also takes into account the carbon emissions of your home.

The EPC will also give a potential efficiency rating, rated in the same way – so the larger the gap between the actual and potential ratings, the greater the scope to improve the property’s energy efficiency.

How do I get an EPC?

When you put a home up for sale or rent, you should contact an accredited domestic energy assessor to compile your EPC. Your estate or lettings agent may recommend a particular assessor, but you can pick whichever firm you like.

To find an assessor near you, check the EPC Register website. The site also lets you check the credentials of any assessor you have been recommended. An EPC can cost anything from £30 to £100, depending on the size of your property and where you are in the country – but you may be able to save by shopping around.

The EPC is valid for 10 years. Once you’ve received your EPC from the assessor, you’ll be able to see what steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Will an EPC affect the value of my property?

Research carried out on behalf of the Energy Saving Trust suggests that buyers are becoming more aware of the value of the EPC. A survey found that around two-thirds of potential buyers thought a home with a high EPC rating should be worth more because of lower gas and electricity bills.

photo: shirokazan

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