What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
An Energy Performance Certificate (or EPC) is a document detailing the efficiency, usage and typical costs of a property’s energy. It also contains recommendations to improve the property’s energy use for improved efficiency and to save money.
The certificate gives a property an energy rating from A to G, much like those found on modern appliances, with A being the most efficient and G being the least efficient. An EPC is valid for 10 years from the date of issue.
A full example of an EPC can be viewed on GOV.UK.
Who needs an EPC?
An EPC is needed whenever a property is bought, sold or rented, and you can be fined if you do not obtain an EPC when it is required. You must order one for potential buyers or tenants before you advertise your property for sale or rent.
If you are buying or renting a property, then the landlord or estate agent must give you the EPC by law, free of charge. This applies both to new-builds and to older homes, though you do not need an EPC if you are only renting a room within a property with shared facilities, as opposed to renting the whole property.
The following buildings do not require an EPC:
- Places of worship
- Temporary buildings that will be used for less than 2 years
- Stand-alone buildings with total useful floor space of less than 50 square metres
- Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that don’t use a lot of energy
- Some buildings that are due to be demolished
- Holiday accommodation that is rented out for less than 4 months a year or is let under a licence to occupy
- Listed buildings
- Residential buildings intended to be used less than 4 months a year
How do I get an EPC?
You must find an approved Domestic Energy Assessor to produce the EPC prior to selling or renting your home. Assessors can be employed by a company such as a estate agent, energy company, may be self-employed or employed by a company like us, VHL.
You must always make sure that your assessor belongs to an accreditation scheme, which can be done online, though you should be aware that there are different requirements for England, Wales and Northern Ireland than for Scotland.
They will then assess your property and produce the certificate.
The fee charged for drawing up the EPC will be at the market rate and will depend on certain factors, such as your property’s location and size.
What does an EPC contain?
The EPC details the property’s performance in terms of:
- Energy use per square metre of floor area
- Energy efficiency based on fuel costs
- Environmental impact based on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
The property is then given a rating for both energy efficiency and environmental impact (CO2 emissions).
Energy efficiency rating
The energy efficiency rating takes the form of colour-coded bands, labelled from A (green) to G (red), ranking them from most to least efficient, respectively. There is also a numerical score, detailing both the property’s current energy efficiency and its potential efficiency if recommended improvements are made. The higher this number, the more energy efficient the property is, and the lower its bills will be.
Environmental impact rating
The environmental impact rating is colour-coded from blue to grey, with ‘very environmentally friendly – lower CO2 emissions’ at the blue end of the scale and ‘not environmentally friendly – higher CO2 emissions’ at the grey end. Again, a numerical score details the property’s environmental impact, with a higher number signalling a lower impact.
Estimated fuel costs
Standard assumptions about the property’s occupancy, heating patterns and location are used by the assessor to estimate its fuel costs for lighting, heating and hot water. This is then drawn up into a table detailing the current energy costs over 3 years, along with the potential energy costs and the potential future savings if the energy efficiency were increased.
When examining an EPC for a property that you are thinking of renting or buying, it is worth noting the date that it was issued, as energy costs rise over time. As an EPC is valid for 10 years, the potential costs and savings may not necessarily be as accurate as when the certificate was first issued.
Detailed performance summary
The EPC also summarises the property’s performance-related features. These include:
- Main heating
- Heating controls
- Secondary heating (if applicable)
- Hot water
Each of the above is given a rating on the following scale:
- Very poor
- Very good
For example, if you have cavity walls but no insulation, this may be ranked as ‘poor’, while having energy-efficient lighting in 75% of fixed outlets, this would likely rank as ‘very good’.
These ratings are used to determine the property’s overall energy efficiency and environmental impact ratings, as shown in the colour-coded charts explained above.
The EPC also outlines a list of recommendations to improve the property’s energy efficiency. This section details the changes which can be made, such as increasing loft insulation or replacing single glazed windows with double glazing, the assumed cost of the change, how much money could typically be saved per year by implementing this change, and what the the feature’s energy rating would be after the improvement. The EPC also states whether or not this improvement is covered by the Green Deal finance scheme, which is explained below.
What is the Green Deal?
The Green Deal is a government scheme launched in October 2011 to help people to make their homes warmer and more energy efficient. The scheme allows you to choose which eligible improvements you would like to make and to pay for them over time through your electricity bill. This additional payment is set at a level which ensures that it does not exceed the estimated saving on your bills.
If you move home, the Green Deal stays with the property and the repayments pass to the new bill payer. More information about the Green Deal and your eligibility can be found on GOV.UK. You may also be eligible for additional financial assistance if you receive income-related benefits.
Here at VHL, we offer a range of landlord services including the issuing of Energy Performance Certificates with a full time, accredited energy assessor.