The ultimate guide to Energy Performance Certificates

Energy performance certificates

Energy performance certificates, otherwise known as EPCs, are required for all domestic and commercial buildings that are available to rent or buy in the UK. But what is an EPC rating, what does it do, how much does an EPC cost, and how could they help you save money on your monthly energy bills? Our comprehensive guide to EPCs can help give you a clearer picture. 

What is an EPC certificate?

EPCs are legally-mandated certificates that show how energy-efficient your building is. It also details typical energy costs and provides recommendations on how to improve energy efficiency and reduce usage, as well as the estimated costs for implementing these changes, and the potential savings that could be made if you do so. 

What is an EPC rating? 

Part of your energy performance certificate will include an EPC rating grade between A and G. A is the best, indicating that your property is the most energy-efficient, while G is the worst. The more energy-efficient your property is, the less you can expect to pay in monthly bills. To get a rating of A, you need to score 92+ on the EPC, whereas to get a rating of G, your property will score just 1-20 points on the EPC.

Landlords are legally required to meet the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), which are set at grade E or above. If their property has an EPC rating that is lower than E, they will be required to make improvements to their property to boost its energy efficiency. If they don’t do so, they will not be allowed to rent out the property and may need to pay a significant penalty. 

What is included in an EPC? 

It’s worth remembering that not all EPCs look the same, but typically, your EPC will break down like this: 

  • Page one

The first page will detail your current and potential energy costs, which can give prospective buyers a little more information about how much a property would cost to run. EPCs only show the costs for lighting, heating, and hot water, so it’s important to remember that the cost of running household appliances like your fridge and television could increase the cost of your monthly bills. 

You’ll also find the EPC rating on page one, giving you a quick visual indication of how energy-efficient the property is currently, and how energy-efficient it could potentially be if the suggested improvements are carried out. Finally, page one details the “top actions” that you can take to save money on energy, including the cost and potential savings on these actions. 

  • Page two

The second page gives a detailed breakdown of your property’s energy performance, including descriptions and energy efficiency ratings. For example, this section of the EPC certificate will show you how efficient your walls, roof, and hot water system are when it comes to energy. This page will also provide you with a list of low or zero-carbon energy technology in the building, for example, solar water heating. Finally, page two will detail the heat demand of your property and show you how this can be improved with insulation. 

  • Page three

The third page of the EPC certificate is one of the most important, as it provides you with a list of recommendations for how you can improve your home’s EPC rating. In order of importance, you will see the recommended measure, the cost, the typical yearly savings, the EPC rating after you make the improvement, and whether Green Deal financing is available to support. The third page will also offer a list of alternative measures that may also help to improve the energy efficiency of your property. 

  • Page four

The fourth page of your property’s EPC certificate will provide basic information about the EPC, including the assessment date and the name of the assessor. It will also give you a little more information about the environmental impact of your property, showcasing your property’s carbon emissions and the impact that improvements could make on them. 

Who needs to get an EPC? 

It is a legal requirement for property sellers or landlords to get an EPC that they can show to tenants or potential buyers. For commercial property owners, you will need to get an EPC if you are selling or renting out your premises. You will also need one if changes have been made to the building (including changes or additions to the air, heating, or ventilation systems), or in completion of any new builds. 

Is anybody exempt from needing an EPC?

Yes, there are a number of exemptions from the requirement to have an EPC. Most importantly, rented rooms in houses do not need EPCs. However, if you’re selling a self-contained flat within a larger house that has its own entrance and facilities, then an EPC certificate will be needed. In addition, most listed buildings are exempt from the requirement to provide an EPC, assuming that they cannot be modified to be made more energy-efficient. 

If I’m buying or renting a property, do I need to buy an EPC? 

If you’re looking to buy or rent, you should receive an EPC from the landlord or seller (it should be provided to you for free). This means that landlords or sellers need to get their EPC rating before they put their property on the market, not after the deal has already closed. 

Do I need to get an EPC in Scotland? 

If you sell a house in Scotland, you will need to get a Home Report. Home Reports include EPCs, as well as property questionnaires and house surveys. In total, the cost should be somewhere between £585 and £820, depending on the size of your property. It’s also important to note that in Scotland, homeowners are required to display their EPC somewhere within their home - a common area would be near the boiler.

Do EPCs need to be renewed?

EPCs are valid for 10 years, after which they need to be renewed. It is very important that landlords and property owners renew EPCs when required, because not having an EPC is a finable offence to the tune of £200. 

How much does an EPC cost?

There isn’t a fixed EPC certificate cost, as it depends on a couple of different factors, including the type of property you live in, the number of bedrooms in your property, and the area in which you live. Generally speaking, the EPC certificate cost will start at around £35, but if you live in a large house or an expensive area, the cost could be significantly more. 

How can I look up an EPC for a property? 

EPC ratings for all properties can be found online at the EPC Register - all you need is the postcode where the property is located. You can then select the property you are searching for and see its most recent EPC certificate. This makes it easy to view the energy efficiency of your own property or the energy efficiency of a property that you are considering moving into. 

What is the EPC process like? 

If you need to get an EPC for your property, it will need to be conducted by an accredited energy assessor. In order to find an assessor to carry out the EPC, you can search the EPC Register to find accredited assessors in your local area. It’s also possible that your estate agent or letting agent will provide you with the services of an assessor. 

After you have found an assessor and scheduled an appointment, the assessor will need access to every room in the property, including the loft. They will inspect heating systems and controls and take photographs and measurements. The amount of time required for the assessment varies from property to property, so you can ask the assessor how long they expect the assessment to take. Finally, the assessor will input the information and produce an EPC certificate for your property. 

Bjorn GriffithDec 9th 2019