An Energy Performance Certificate (also known as EPC) is an energy efficiency rating for your property, and is needed by law on all properties in the process of being rented or sold.

An EPC report identifies areas where the property currently falls down in energy-efficiency terms and provides homeowners with recommendations for improving their property’s energy efficiency. EPCs were introduced by the government to improve efficiency levels, in light of growing debates and awareness around the environmental impact of low energy efficiency.

Since 2008 (2009 in Scotland), getting an EPC has been a legal requirement for any domestic or commercial building put up for sale or for rent. Sellers (even with new builds) must show an EPC to potential buyers, and landlords must have one available for tenants. So, if your home has been let or sold in the last decade, it should have an EPC (this remains valid for 10 years).

It can be helpful to know that there is a national register of EPCs (unless you’ve opted out) where you can take a look at your property’s previous certificates. You can also view similar properties in your neighbourhood for a comparison of how energy-efficient your home is – if you’re interested in having a nosey around!

You cannot issue an Energy Performance Certificate yourself. Rather, you need to enlist the services of a professional RICS-Accredited Chartered Surveyor or Domestic Energy Assessor. Your estate or letting agent may well offer these services as an additional cost. However to get the best cost for your certificate, it’s often better to get the assessment completed directly.

Whose Responsibility is the EPC Certificate?

Selling a Property

If you’re selling a property, you will always need an up-to-date EPC. If you already have one, make sure to check that it’s still within date. As we mentioned, they expire after 10 years.

Buying a Property

If you are buying a property, the EPC will be provided by the property seller. In the case of newly constructed properties (new builds), it is usually the developer that provides the EPC.

Renting a Property

For rented properties, the landlord is responsible for arranging an EPC. When buying or renting a property you should never be asked to provide, or pay for, an EPC report.

How much does an EPC cost?

An EPC usually takes between 45 minutes and an hour to complete and costs, on average,  £60 – £120. This covers two things:

  1. The survey, completed by an accredited assessor
  2. The certificate itself

Other factors that can contribute to the overall cost are the location and size of your property.

If you’re working with a professional to carry out and obtain your EPC, make sure that they are accredited to do this. You can make sure of this by searching for your assessor on the government portal. Working with an accredited assessor will ensure that your EPC has a legal foundation should anyone raise concerns or questions.

On top of these costs, there may be the added expense of any work needed to improve the energy efficiency on your property.

EPC Exemptions

There are cases where you’re exempt from getting an Energy Performance Certificate. Typically, you do not require an EPC if you can demonstrate that the building is:

  • officially protected or listed
  • a temporary building that is only going to be used for 2 years or less
  • a workshop, industrial site or non-residential agricultural building that doesn’t use much energy
  • a place of worship or building used for other religious activities
  • a detached building with under 50 square metres of total floor space
  • due to be demolished by the seller or landlord with the relevant planning and conservation documentation
  • due to be rented out or sold with vacant possession
  • suitable for demolition and the buyer or tenant has applied for planning permission to demolish the building

An EPC is also not be needed for a room being rented out by a resident landlord.

What does a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) do?

The cost of your EPC covers the services of a Chartered Surveyor or Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA).

The DEA will carry out a number of health and safety checks on your property, taking details throughout the building. This includes the overall construction of the property, the dimensions of your living space, details of any insulation, and your lighting and heating systems.

This allows them to identify areas where heat may be lost, through windows, ceilings and walls for example, and apply a rating. They will take photos throughout so that there’s a record of their findings.

The inspection gives you an indication of how much it will cost to power and heat the property. It also comes with suggestions on how you could potentially save money by improving the energy efficiency of the building.

What assessors are looking for:

  • Inspection of room heaters, boilers, heating controls and fireplaces: a large part of the assessment will involve studying the heating system, any controls it has and the overall energy efficiency of the system.
  • Record of fuel type to heat the property
  • Survey of the property’s construction type (solid brick, stone etc.), including its age any extensions on it
  • Inspection of insulation present in the loft and walls: assessors will also undertake a visual inspection of the loft (if you have one). This will tell them how much, and what type of, insulation you’re using. Additionally, they can ascertain the type of wall/insulation between you and the house next door.
  • Record of low-energy lighting: they will check the number as well as the type of light fittings to see if these are energy-efficient.
  • Inspection of window glazing: they will also undertake a visual inspection of windows, checking whether they are single-, double- or triple-glazed, as well as whether they meet various standards.

The data is recorded on a property datasheet. The Energy Performance Certificate is then sent to the agent and/or property owner within 2 days, logged with Landmark Registry and stored, with all copies of Certificates, in the government portal. Once completed, you should receive your Energy Performance Certificate within a few working days.

How is your EPC rating calculated?

Having gathered all the data they need during the survey, assessors can now calculate your EPC score. They do this using the Reduced Data Standards Assessment Procedure (RDSAP), a model developed by the government.

The assessor inputs data including property type, property age, property dimensions, the construction type, room and water heating systems, insulation levels, window and glazing types, and types of lighting.

The RDSAP software is a cost-based rating system which uses a number of pre-determined assumptions. It doesn’t consider the impact of appliances like washing machines, TVs and dishwashers in the property. So, what it provides is not an occupancy rating.

Reading your EPC report

The EPC rating is easy to read and understand, with a clear letter- and colour-coded scale. It comprises two key ratings: an ‘Energy Efficiency Rating’ and ‘Environmental Impact (CO2) Rating’.

EPC: Energy Efficiency Rating

The building’s current rating will appear on a scale from A (dark green) to G (dark red). A is the most energy-efficient and G is the least. This scale also features the potential rating you could achieve if you enacted the energy-efficiency recommendations included within your report.

EPC: Environmental Impact (Co2) Rating

The Environmental Impact (CO2) Rating uses a similar system to the Energy Efficiency Rating. The scale in this case grades from A (light blue) to G (dark grey). A corresponds to ‘very environmentally friendly – lower CO2 emissions’, G to ‘Not environmentally friendly – higher CO2 emissions’. This will also include a potential rating – what you could achieve by following the recommendations included in your report.

What if I don’t understand something?

If you don’t understand something on your certificate or you disagree with it, the first place to go is the energy assessor that carried out the EPC. Their details should be listed in the ‘about this document’ section of the report.

If the assessor cannot resolve your issue, you can contact their accreditation scheme. The relevant details will also be listed in the ‘about this document’ section of the certificate.

What if the property scores a low EPC rating?

Don’t panic! The EPC rating represents the current energy efficiency of the property. But it doesn’t have to stay like that.

As mentioned, the EPC report will also contain recommendations for increasing the energy efficiency of the property, along with an indicative cost and potential cost savings of undertaking these updates. Using this information, you should easily be able to weigh the benefits of making these updates against the money they will cost you.

If you’re planning on renting a property and the EPC is not satisfactory, you are free to negotiate with your letting agent or landlord. You may be able to get some of the suggested work done ahead of moving into the property.

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