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Energy Performance Certificates and ratings explained

Discover why Energy Performance Certificates are important and why you need one to sell or rent out your home. Also find out how EPCs can help you identify improvements to save money on your energy bills.

Energy Performance Certificate

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is designed to reveal how energy efficient a building is. An EPC report is 4 pages long and contains:

  • Information about the property’s typical energy usage and costs.
  • An EPC rating from A to G.
  • Tips on how to improve its energy efficiency, along with estimated costs and potential annual savings.

There are different types of EPC checks for different types of property:

  • Domestic EPCs: These are required by homeowners wishing to sell their home or landlords looking to rent out a property. You will be required to present this to your prospective buyer or tenant. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £5,000.
  • Commercial EPCs: These are required for those selling or renting out commercial properties. Failure to present this type of EPC can result in a fine worth 12.5% of the property value or £750. If the property is newly built, the person in charge of meeting Building Regulations will also need to get a separate EPC called an On Construction certificate.
  • SAP EPCs: These are required for newly built and recently converted properties as well as properties that have increased the number of rooms.

A building’s EPC rating tells you how energy-efficient it is. 2 ratings are provided:

  • Current: This is how energy efficient the property is right now.
  • Potential: This is the EPC rating you could achieve with some energy efficiency upgrades.

Each rating is scored from 0 to 100 and graded from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). The higher the score, the lower the building’s energy consumption. This is good both for your wallet in terms of reduced energy bills as well as the environment.

You’ll need an EPC check when you want to build, sell or rent out a property. The law states you should get such an energy certificate within 7 days of putting your property on the market, but ideally it should be in place beforehand.

There’s no pass or fail score for an EPC used to sell your home; however, if you plan to rent out your property, it must have an EPC rating of E or better. If it scores F or G, you’ll need to make improvements (see below).

Once ordered, an EPC is valid for 10 years, although you can update it at any time – for example, after carrying out energy efficiency improvements. Doing so can make your home more attractive to would-be buyers or tenants.

Before getting a new EPC, you can check to see whether one is already registered to your property, and if it’s still valid for not. Visit the government’s official EPC register and enter your postcode to begin the search.

You do not need to apply for an EPC for the following types of building:

  • Holiday accommodation that is let under a licence to occupy or otherwise rented out for less than 4 months per year.
  • Listed buildings – speak to your local authority’s conservation officer if energy efficiency improvements will alter the building’s character.
  • Residential buildings in use for less than 4 months each year
  • Temporary buildings in use for under 2 years
  • Standalone buildings with less than 50 square metres of usable floor space
  • Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that don’t use much energy.
  • Certain buildings due for demolition
  • Places of worship

If you’re using a letting or estate agent to rent or sell your home, they should be able to organise this for you. Alternatively, you’ll need to find a local accredited domestic energy assessor.

  • Go to the government’s official EPC register and click ‘Start now’.
  • Select your property type (domestic or non-domestic).Choose whether it’s for an existing building or a new build.
  • Enter the building’s postcode.
  • Review the list, which will show assessors in order of distance from your property. You should find telephone and email contact details for each assessor.
  • You can also use the register to check if an assessor you’ve been recommended is properly registered by searching for them by name.

There’s no fixed cost for an EPC, but they typically start from around £60. Try to get at least 3 quotes from energy assessors in your area to see who offers the most competitive rate.

The EPC register is an online database of all EPC certificates issued in the UK, including those that have expired. Use it to find an EPC certificate for any UK property, including those you’re interested in buying or renting. You can also use it to see if there’s an EPC certificate for your own property.

To find and view an EPC report:

  • Visit the EPC register at GOV.UK and click ‘Start now’.
  • Choose the type of certificate you wish to view: domestic or non-domestic.
  • Enter the property’s postcode and click Find.A
  • list of matching addresses will be shown. You’ll see each property’s energy rating (A-G) and how long its current EPC certificate is valid for. Expired certificates are clearly labelled as such.
  • Click the address of the property you wish to view to access the full EPC report.

If an address isn’t listed, it’s because it’s never had an EPC check performed on it.

An EPC does not display a pass or fail, it merely provides a rating (both current and potential) of the property’s current energy efficiency. You only need to achieve a minimum rating – E or better – if you plan to let the property.

Here’s a brief breakdown of what you’ll find in each EPC report:

  • Summary: This includes the property’s energy rating from A to G, when the certificate expires (or expired), and a certificate number.
  • Actual and potential energy ratings: These again list the property’s energy ratings, but also provides a score out of 100 for each. These scores are linked to its rating
  • Breakdown of property’s energy performance: This lists all features accompanied by a description and a rating such as ‘Good’ or ‘Average’. The features include:
  • Wall
  • Roof
  • Window
  • Main heating
  • Main heating control
  • Hot water
  • Lighting
  • Floor
  • Secondary heating
  • A list of any low or zero carbon energy sources installed in the building, such as solar panels
  • Primary energy use: this is the energy required to light, heat and provide hot water for the property
  • It’s measured in kilowatt hours per square metre (kWh/m2) and covers an entire year
  • The figure is then used to calculate the estimated cost of heating, lighting and providing hot water for the property, based on an average household. The prices shown are based on energy costs at the time the EPC was granted, so will be out of date.
  • You’re also shown the estimated amount of energy required to both heat the property and provide hot water, each measured in kWh per year. These figures are more useful as they can be used to calculate the property’s average heating costs.
  • Impact on the environment: This section explains how the property’s energy rating is based on how much carbon dioxide it produces each year through its energy usage. It also lists the carbon emissions produced by the property as well as an estimate of its potential production.
  • Changes you could make: A list of potential improvements that could be made to reduce your energy costs and environmental impact. They include typical installation costs and annual savings, plus the potential EPC rating after completion.

Start by looking at the ‘Changes you could make’ section of your property’s EPC certificate. This will suggest a series of steps to follow. Examples include:

  • Fitting renewable energy, such as solar panels
  • Improving the level of insulation in your roof space
  • Insulating your walls or floors
  • Fitting new double-glazing windows
  • Draught-proofing your home
  • Replacing your boiler – either with a newer condensing boiler, or with an alternative heat system such as a heat pump.

There are other ways you can cut your energy bills without spending huge sums. Check out our tips for an energy-efficient home to find out more.

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