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What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

If you’re wondering ‘what is an Energy Performance Certificate?’, you’re not alone. It’s a confusing topic for many!

But, if you want to sell or rent out your home, you need an EPC.

So, it’s time to straighten things out. From what they do to why they’re beneficial, here’s EPCs explained.

What is an EPC?

An EPC gives a home an energy rating, based on its energy efficiency, informing you of:

  • How energy efficient a property is
  • The approximate cost of running the property
  • Suggestions on how to improve the energy efficiency of the building

To do this, the energy certificate will give your property a rating from A (highly efficient) to G (inefficient). The UK average is D!

Required in Northern Ireland, England and Wales, this home energy efficiency rating will let owners/prospective buyers or tenants how costly the property is to run, and inform them of any money-saving methods that can be implemented.

Is an EPC a legal requirement?

Having an EPC is a legal requirement for all domestic properties that are built and up for sale or rent in the UK.

There are some exceptions to the rule. Not all properties need a home energy certificate, such as:

  • If a property is a listed building. The listing will put limitations on the measures that can be taken to improve efficiency (i.e. double glazing)
  • If only one room being rented out by a landlord living the same property
  • Buildings that are set to be used for less than 2 years
  • Places of worship
  • Buildings that are about to be demolished

But, in the absence of any exemption granted for your property, an EPC is essential if you intend to market it for sale or rent.

While there are currently no laws on the rating your home must have before you sell it, this might been changing. For example, in April 2018, it was announced that, legally, all rented properties must have an energy rating of at least E. Unless the landlord takes action to improve the energy efficiency rating within the space of three months, they may face a fine of up to 20% of the property’s rateable value. These laws come into effect in 2020.

You may consult the record of all previous energy efficiency certificates issued for your property on the EPC Register. You can also find out the energy rating of similar properties in your area simply by entering the postcode.

When should I get an EPC?

Any property that is built, sold or rented needs an EPC. As a rule, it’s a requirement that properties in England, Scotland and Wales have an EPC in place before marketing of the property commences.

So, it’s expected that before it is put up for sale or rent, the duty holder will have obtained an energy certificate for the house.

When do I need an Energy Performance Certificate?

An EPC is valid for 10 years – but you might want to update it before its expiry! Recent energy efficiency improvements are likely to make your property more attractive to potential buyers or tenants.

In short, the answer to ‘Do I need an EPC to sell my house?’ is yes!

But, even if you’re not planning to sell your home, getting an EPC rating for your property is often a good idea!

Whose responsibility is it to get an EPC?

EPC reports are paid for by the seller or landlord.

If you have had work done to your property, you may want to get a new report when you come to sell it, to reflect any improvements made.

If you’re renting your home, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to get an EPC.

How to get an Energy Performance Certificate

If you’re wondering, ‘how do I get an Energy Performance Certificate?’ the answer is in fact simpler than you might think!

An EPC is given by an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor only. These assessors will visit the property themselves. A seller or landlord cannot carry out the assessment themselves - only a registered office!

Alternatively, if you’re selling or marketing your home using an estate agent, they might be able to find a registered individual for you.

How much does an Energy Performance Certificate cost?

So, let’s talk money. How much is an Energy Performance Certificate?

The cost of getting an energy efficiency rating varies. It depends on:

  • The type of property
  • Its location
  • The number of bedrooms it has

But, price of an EPC test is currently in the approximate range of £50-£120, plus VAT.

What is the point of an Energy Efficiency Certificate?

The purpose of the EPC is to give you an idea (as a buyer or renter of a new property) how much it will cost you to heat and power your home.

Having this information is essential, because it lets people know what to expect from their energy bills, and how much they could save if they switched energy providers.

But, many who aren’t selling or renting out their property choose to get an energy performance certificate. Whether you want to lower your carbon dioxide emissions or you’d simply like to stay up to date with the latest money-saving methods, an EPC report can help.



How do Energy Rating Certificates affect feed-in tariffs?

The government’s feed-in tariff scheme for solar panels buys excess energy from homeowners.

However, if you’re looking to be paid, your energy rating certificate is essential. To be eligible, your property needs a rating of ‘D’ or higher! This applies whether you’re selling or renting your home or not.

Can an EPC save you money?

Will the EPC save you money on your fuel bills? Essentially yes.

An EPC can let you know how much money you’ll save by switching provider. It will also give you an idea of how much it will cost you, and ultimately save you in the long run, if you upgrade your appliances and improve the energy efficiency of your home.

While working out the best energy tariff for you is essential, so is taking action yourself. Whether it’s better insulation in the loft, double-glazing or draft-proofing, your home could be hemorrhaging money without you realising.

But, an EPC can also be used as a great bargaining chip. If you’re considering buying a property with a low EPC rating, this could help you negotiate the house price down. Alternatively, you might also be able to haggle a lower rent!

Can an EPC rating be improved?

If you get a low energy rating, don’t worry. It can be improved!

The higher the rating, the more attractive, because this indicates the property will be cheaper to run.

Ratings can be improved by taking a few simple steps:

  • Ensure the loft is adequately insulated
  • Cavity-wall insulation
  • Installing properly fitting draft proof measures, especially around doors, windows and fireplaces
  • Filling in floor gaps
  • Wrapping your hot water tank

Whether you’re buying or renting, find out more about your area with a property report. A full report contains information on everything from who your neighbours are to crime rates. Get your full report here!

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