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Anyone who has ever bought and sold a home will know that there are a fair few confusing acronyms involved. But one you really should get your head around is a property's EPC ratings.
With 22 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions coming from energy use in residential housing, the energy efficiency of our homes is gaining more attention than ever. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) measures the energy efficiency of a property at the time it was issued. EPC ratings are given to properties and are represented on a scale from A (most efficient) to E (least efficient).
The EPC contains information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs, as well as recommendations about what you can do to save energy at home and make your property cheaper to run.
This standardised document is a legal requirement whenever a property is built, sold or rented. It is the seller or landlord’s responsibility to organise an EPC. But buyers or sellers need to understand this document, so you can understand how much it will cost to heat and power the property.
With rising energy costs, they are a useful tool to see where the property is not energy efficient and how you can make improvements. If you are selling or are a landlord and you do not have an EPC, you could be fined up to £5,000. Under new government proposals, this would be increased to £30,000 from 2025.
As well as costing less money to run, homes that have higher EPC ratings generally have higher asking prices and are more attractive to potential buyers. So if you want to know how to sell your house quickly and for a higher price, understanding EPC ratings is a worthwhile use of your time.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
An Energy Performance Certificate measures the energy efficiency of a building. Alongside an overall rating, it will show the household’s estimated energy costs for lighting, heating, and hot water for the next three years.
As well as detailing the property’s current rating, it will provide a potential score which could be achieved if the recommendations for improved energy efficiency are installed.
EPCs were first introduced in 2007 and became a legal requirement in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 2008, and in Scotland from 2009. The aim was to encourage homeowners and landlords to adopt energy-saving measures. They have helped people to become more aware of the benefits of energy efficiency and improved transparency about the running costs of properties.
There are two types of EPCs: domestic and commercial. If you are buying or renting a residential property, you will require a domestic EPC. Commercial properties may also require an EPC, depending on their size and what they are used for.
EPC ratings: a brief summary
All properties are placed on a colour-coded scale from A to G, with A being the most efficient with the cheapest fuel bills.
A property's EPC rating will be dependent on:
- The amount of energy used per metre squared
- The level of carbon dioxide emissions (in tonnes per year)
It provides a numerical grade, between 1 and 100 and occasionally 120 depending on renewable energy measures and a lettered grade from A to G, with A being the highest.
- A: 92 points plus
- B: 81-91 points
- C: 69-80 points
- D: 55-68 points
- E: 39-54 points
- F: 21-38 points
- G: 1- 20 points
Adam Male, Chief Revenue Officer at online lettings agent Mashroom (opens in new tab), says: ‘The rating visualises the ratings for your property, with band A being coloured in dark green and G in red. The chart will show you where your property currently ranks on the rating chart, with a second column highlighting where it could potentially rank in the future following improvements.'
'This score is calculated by a qualified assessor who will look at a number of factors to see how energy is used within the property. The overall score will provide the EPC rating for the property.’
New builds tend to have higher EPC ratings, while older homes have EPC ratings of around D or E. The average EPC rating in the UK is D (rating 60).
Energy Performance Certificate – a breakdown
It is important to note that not all EPCs will look the same. Certificates created before 2017 will look slightly different to the more current version, which will be explained here.
The first part of your certificate will show:
- The date of validity, so the exact date your EPC will expire
- A certificate number
- A description of the property
- Total internal floor area, based on measurements taken by the assessor at the time of their visit
The EPC will then be broken down into the following main sections:
1. Current and potential energy costs
The first section of an EPC looks at the house’s estimated costs for energy divided into lighting, heating and hot water currently. This is useful to know how much a property’s energy utility bills will be and how much you could save.
It is worth noting that this is an estimate of costs and not based on energy used by individual households. It excludes energy used for running appliances, such as computers, cookers, fridges and TVs, so your bills will likely be higher.
The estimates shown are useful if you are comparing properties, so you can see which one will be cheaper to run.
2. Energy efficiency rating
The next table will show which EPC rating your property has and looks similar to the energy labels on home appliances. The rating is from A to G, with A as the most efficient and cheapest to run. It also shows the potential rating if you were to make the suggested improvements.
Some EPCs will have a similar table, showing the property’s environmental performance. This will show how the building performs in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. Again the best rating is A and the worst is G. It will again show the potential which could be achieved if changes were implemented.
The next part of your certificate will give you a breakdown of each element of your property, including your walls, roof, floor, windows, main heating, main heating controls, secondary heating, hot water, and lighting.
After each of these will be a description and a rating. This is sometimes given from one to five stars, with five being the best. Or it will be given from Very Poor to Very Good.
This part of the EPC can help you understand how effective the construction of the property is, as well as the heating and hot water system, and lighting.
This important part of the EPC lists a breakdown of recommended measures, including the related costs and typical savings that you could make. It will show how each measure could improve the energy efficiency of the property and now this could improve the rating.
The recommended measures are shown in order of importance and the improvement figures are based on making changes in this order. The number of recommendations will vary.
Phil Foster, CEO of Love Energy Savings (opens in new tab), explains: ‘In terms of climbing the EPC band ratings, some measures will make more difference than others. Replacing your boiler for example can add as many as 40 points on your EPC rating, which would take you from a Band E to A.'
‘Meanwhile, loft insulation can add up to 15 points, and is a relatively low-cost home improvement, and cavity wall insulation can add 20 points and you may be able to apply for a grant to help towards this cost. Therefore, if your property is close to getting into a higher-rated band of EPC, both measures are worth considering.’
The report will then list alternative measures that could be considered to improve the energy efficiency of a property. This often includes information about renewable alternatives, such as heat pumps and biomass.
The final section will include basic information, such as the date of the assessment, the assessor and their accrediting body.
What is the EPC Register?
All EPCs in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are lodged on a national register, called the EPC Register (opens in new tab). For properties in Scotland, check the Scottish EPC Register (opens in new tab).
These registers are publicly available. They are useful for finding your EPC certificate or when you are comparing future homes and then the potential costs involved in running them. The government may use some of this data for research and statistical purposes.
You can opt out of the EPC Register by contacting the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.
What is my home’s EPC Rating?
You can check the rating of your own and other properties on the EPC Register. (opens in new tab) Just type in your postcode to find the correct address. If your property has a valid EPC, you can download it as a PDF and save it for free.
If there is anything in your report that you want to query, you can contact the energy assessor who completed the report. You should be able to access their details in the report.
Why is a high EPC rating important?
Based on average property prices, there is a correlation between a stronger EPC rating and a higher house price. According to MoneySupermarket.com (opens in new tab), properties with higher EPC ratings can achieve higher values and improving any rating can be an important way to bolster your asking price.
Jonathan Rolande, Director of House Buy Fast and Founder of the National Association of Property Buyers (opens in new tab), explains: ‘More than ever now people are aware of heating costs and want to do their bit for the environment. When introduced in 2007 nobody really cared what the EPC said and would buy regardless.
'Now that’s changed and given the choice of two properties where one was a D and the other a B, almost everyone would buy the cheaper to run B home.'
‘A low EPC will have a minor effect on value but also saleability. Buy to let purchasers cannot rent a property that is F or G and in 2025 that changes to C. As Buy to Let makes up a large proportion of the UK market, the effect of a poor EPC will soon have a more severe impact on price.’
How do I get an EPC rating?
In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, an accredited energy assessor must complete your EPC. You can find accredited accessors in your area via the government’s official EPC Register. In Scotland, EPCs must be completed by government-approved organisations.
An accredited domestic energy assessor will attend your property to complete its assessment. They will need to access all rooms including the loft, as well as inspect the heating systems and controls. They will take key measurements and photographs of all the key data.
Rolande adds: ‘All regions of the UK need an EPC prior to sale or letting. In Scotland, they must be displayed in the property itself – usually in a boiler or airing cupboard. There are many providers who must be qualified to carry them out and the process is quite straightforward.’
Do I need a valid EPC to rent out my home?
In a word, yes. If you are renting out or selling your property, any letting agent should ensure that you have a valid EPC rating on your property.
On April 1, 2018, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force. This required all properties being let or sold in England and Wales to have a minimum EPC rating of E and above.
The government has also announced changes to MEES standards and has proposed that all rental properties will need an EPC rating of C and above by 2025. The new regulations will first apply to new tenancies, followed by all tenancies from 2028. This hopes to make homes more energy-efficient and forms part of the government’s target to be net-zero by 2050.
There are a few scenarios in which your property will not need an EPC. These include if the property is listed, in a Conservation Area, or protected because some energy efficiency improvements may unacceptably alter the appearance of the property.
How long does my EPC certificate last?
Once completed, an EPC is valid for 10 years. You can use it multiple times within this period. If you have made improvements to your property and plan to rent it out or sell it, it is a good idea to have a new EPC done to reflect the changes.
What can I do to improve my EPC rating?
An EPC will list recommendations on how you can improve your rating. It will give estimated costs to make improvements, as well as the total potential savings.
Common recommendations include:
- Install double glazing
- Insulate your floor, roof, loft, or walls
- Install solar panels
- Replace an old boiler
- Invest in low-energy lighting
- Use renewable energy such as a heat pump
- Install a smart meter
These improvements will lower energy bills and lessen the property's environmental impact.
Georgina is an experienced copywriter, editor, and NCTJ-accredited journalist with almost 20 years' writing experience. She currently works across multiple sectors, including energy, health, lifestyle, entertainment, tech, and education. Recently, she compiled articles for an energy trade magazine about renewables and offshore wind farms and she has a number of boiler clients through her copywriting work.
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