What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are home energy efficiency reports, often required when dealing with property

Written by: Matthew Whitfield

  • What is an EPC?
  • When do I need an EPC?
  • How do I get an EPC?
  • How do I read an EPC?
  • How do I improve my EPC?
A graphic of a house using lots of energy with all the lights on

What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a report that includes information about a property's energy efficiency. Properties are rated on a scale ranging from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).

EPC Ratings Scale from A to G

An EPC also includes an estimate of a property's energy usage and cost, which can help potential buyers and tenants anticipate the ongoing costs of living in the property.

For property owners, an EPC includes suggested improvements that would increase a property's energy efficiency. Each recommendation comes with an indicative upfront cost and an estimate of the ongoing savings in energy bills.

When do I need an EPC?

In most cases, an EPC is required whenever a property is built, sold, or rented and remains valid for 10 years.

  • Selling - When selling a property, the seller must provide an EPC to potential buyers. It should be available during viewings or included in the property's sale documents.
  • Renting - For landlords, an EPC is required for prospective tenants when renting out a property. The EPC must be supplied to the tenant before the rental agreement is signed.
  • New builds - If you're building a new home, an EPC is required upon completion. The process is slightly different, with the assessor reviewing the property's design specification and construction materials to calculate a rating.

Certain properties are exempt from EPC requirements. These include listed buildings, temporary buildings, stand-alone buildings, and places of worship.

How long does an EPC last?

An EPC remains valid for 10 years from the date it is issued. If you are selling or renting a property and you already have a valid EPC, there is no need to obtain a new one. However, if you have made significant improvements to the property's energy efficiency since the last report, it might be worthwhile getting a new EPC to reflect the improved energy rating.

How do I get an EPC?

You'll need to find an accredited assessor who can carry out the assessment and produce the report for you.

How to find an assessor

You can ask family and friends for recommendations if they have recently obtained an EPC and received good service.

Estate agents and letting agents often have contact with assessors who can help you arrange an assessment.

The government website offers a search function to help you find an assessor in your area.

What to expect during an assessment

During the assessment, the assessor will examine various aspects of your property, including insulation, heating systems, windows, lighting, and construction materials. They will also gather information about the property's age, size, and layout. This typically takes a couple of hours, depending on the property's size.

The assessor will use the data collected during the assessment to calculate your property's energy efficiency rating.

How do I read my EPC?

You can find an existing EPC report on the government's EPC register.

Each report is split up into sections:

  • Property Details - Basic information about the property including the address, property type, total floor area, and assessment date.
  • Energy efficiency rating - The current energy efficiency rating and potential energy rating if the recommended improvements are made. The rating ranges from A to G, with A being the most energy-efficient and G being the least.
  • Estimated energy costs - An estimate of the current energy cost for hot water, lighting, and heating. It also includes an estimate of energy costs if the recommended improvements are made.
  • Recommendations - A list of the recommended energy efficiency improvements. Each includes an indicative cost, typical savings based on energy costs at the time of the report, and potential energy rating uplift.
  • Energy performance breakdown - A detailed breakdown of the home's energy performance-related features, such as heating and hot water systems.
  • Environmental Impact - Details of the current environmental impact, measured in terms of CO2 emissions, as well as the potential impact if the recommended improvements are made.

How does my EPC compare?

Understanding how your property compares can help you gauge its energy usage and environmental impact.

Our property valuations include an energy efficiency section that shows the property's EPC rating, estimated energy usage, and environmental impact measured in CO2 emissions.

Each valuation includes the average for properties of the same type, for comparison. For example, if your property is a detached house, it will show you the average figure for detached houses across England and Wales.

Energy Efficiency section in Varbes property valuation

How do I improve my EPC score?

To improve your property's energy efficiency and EPC score, focus on the recommended improvements outlined in your most recent EPC.

You can prioritise improvements based on rating uplift, cost efficiency, ease of implementation, or budget constraints.

Here are some common improvements suggested on EPC ratings:

  • Upgrading insulation - Improving insulation in walls, roofs, and floors can reduce heat loss.
  • Installing energy-efficient windows and doors - Replacing single-glazed windows with double or triple glazing can help minimize heat loss.
  • Integrating renewable energy sources - Installing solar panels, wind turbines, or other renewable systems can reduce energy usage from non-renewable sources, decreasing a property's environmental impact.
  • Installing energy-efficient lighting - Switching to LED or other energy-efficient lighting options can help reduce energy consumption.

The Energy Saving Trust provide valuable resources and advice for homeowners looking to improve their property's energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency Grants and Schemes in the UK

There are several government grants and schemes that offer incentives and support to help households reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs.

For example, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme is designed to encourage homeowners to replace old, inefficient boilers with more efficient models. Eligible participants can receive a voucher towards the cost of upgrading their boiler.

Help for Households lists available government support programmes as well as tips on how to save money on energy bills.

Can I appeal my EPC rating?

If you believe your EPC is incorrect or that there were errors in the assessment, you can appeal the rating. Contact the accreditation scheme to which your assessor belongs and follow their complaints procedure. You'll need to include evidence to support your claim, such as details of any energy improvements that were overlooked during the assessment.

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