This guide will explain everything you need to know about an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is. It will cover the essentials: what an EPC is, when you will need an EPC, a step by step guide on how to get an EPC, an explanation of EPC ratings and how much an EPC costs. An EPC checklist is also provided, alongside other tips and advice.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?
An Energy Performance Certificate is a document that provides potential buyers and tenants with information about the energy efficiency and environmental impact of a property. The certificate will detail information such as the property’s typical energy costs, plus offer recommendations on how to reduce energy use and make the property more energy efficient.
The EPC is valid for 10 years and will usually take an assessor between 45 minutes and an hour to complete.
EPCs were first introduced in 2007 as part of the now-abolished Home Information Pack, as part of a government goal to make regulations more environmentally friendly. By law, it is now necessary for all properties being sold or rented in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to have an energy performance rating.
In 2012, the legislation around EPCs was updated and simplified, then used as part of the assessment for the Green Deal. This government scheme provided home owners with money to make energy-saving improvements to their property, such as better insulation, improved heating, draught-proofing, double glazing and renewable energy generation such as solar panels.
The EPC celebrated its 10th birthday in August 2017, which means home owners who are considering selling their property will need to check if their energy performance rating is still valid, as enough time has elapsed for it to expire. It is no longer possible to sell a home without a valid EPC, so this is important.
EPC regulations are continuously evolving to meet with government environmental targets and changes in technology and societal attitudes. For example, in April 2018 it became law for the minimum energy efficiency standard for non-domestic buildings to be an ‘E’ EPC rating. This impacted both residential and commercial EPCs within the private rented sector.
All eligible properties had to be improved to this new minimum standard, and it now illegal to rent a property that does not meet this minimum energy efficiency standard. There are some exemptions to the requirement, and these will be covered in a later section of this guide. A penalty of up to £4,000 can be imposed for any breaches to this law.
When will I need a EPC?
You will need an EPC for your property under any of the following conditions:
- If the property has just been built.
- If you are selling the property.
- When the property is being rented to a new tenant.
- You must have an EPC for any potential buyers or tenants prior to the property being marketed for sale or rent
- If your property is in Scotland, the EPC must be displayed somewhere within it, such as the meter cupboard or next to the boiler.
The following types of property are exempt from needing an EPC:
- Places of worship.
- Temporary buildings that will be used for less than 2 years.
- In some circumstances, buildings that are about to be demolished.
- Residential buildings that will be used for less than 4 months a year.
- Holiday accommodation that is rented out for less than 4 months a year, or is let under a licence to occupy
- Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that do not use a lot of energy.
- Listed buildings – a change in the law in 2013 made listed buildings exempt from needing an EPC if it would require significant changes to the character and appearance of building to meet with the latest energy efficiency requirements. If you own a listed building, you will need to speak to your local authority conservation officer for guidance and advice.
How do I get an EPC?
Follow these 6 steps if you need to obtain a new EPC for your property:
1) Check if your property needs an EPC. The law does not require all properties to have an EPC, so check the above list to see if you actually need one, as you don’t want to unrecognisably spend money.
2) Find an accredited EPC assessor. The accredited EPC assessor will determine how energy efficient your property is, then create an EPC based on their findings. It is absolutely vital that you use an EPC assessor who is properly accredited, or your EPC will not be valid.
3) Schedule a date and time to have your property assessed. You will need to be available at the time of the assessment so you can meet the EPC assessor, show them around your property and answer any questions that may arise as they carry out the inspection. When you are scheduling the assessment, bear in mind an EPC usually takes between 45 minutes and an hour to complete.
4) Have the EPC assessor inspect your property. You will need to provide access to the EPC assessor, including freedom of movement around every room in the property. Try and make sure that all doorways and hallways are clear of possible obstructions before the EPC assessor arrives. During the inspection, the EPC assessor will take photos and measurements around your property. They may also draw a layout of the property to be used as a reference in the future.
5) Pay the EPC assessor. The cost of an EPC will vary based on your assessor and a variety of other factors. A section later in this article will provide more details about how much an EPC costs, and things to consider.
6) Your EPC will arrive in the post. Once the EPC assessor has visited your property, they will analyse all the data and information they collected and create an EPC rating from it. You should receive a hard copy of the EPC in the post a few days after your assessment, and be emailed a digital copy sooner. The next section will explain what information will be contained in your EPC rating.
Follow these steps to find an existing EPC:
1) Visit the relevant government website ( https://find-energy-certificate.digital.communities.gov.uk/ ) that is dedicated to finding energy certificates. This service can help you locate Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), Display Energy Certificates (DECs) for public buildings, as well as air conditioning inspection certificates and reports.
2) Search for the certificate by entering the address of the property. You will be asked to enter the post code, but if you do not have this, you can use the street address and post town.
3) Alternatively, search using the Report Reference Number (RRN) of an existing EPC. The RNN is a 24-digit number that is given to an EPC when it is created. If you need the RRN, contact the energy assessor who produced the EPC, or find where the number is located on the certificate itself.
4) Whichever method you used, once you have entered the details you will be presented with a digital copy of the correct EPC for your property. You can then save and/or print a copy of it for future reference.
Additional points to consider about locating EPCs:
- You can use the search tool to look at EPCs for any property free of charge. This enables you to compare your property’s energy performance with that of similar properties.
- If you do not want other people to be able to see your EPC, you can opt out of the EPC register.
An Energy Performance Certificate uses a scale from A to G to rate a property’s energy efficiency and environmental impact. A building rated ‘A’ is the most efficient, with ‘G’ the most inefficient. The certificate will also offer suggestions on how the rating could be improved, with the intention of simultaneously saving the owner money on their energy bills, and lower the level of carbon emissions produced by the property.
The certificate will record details about the property such as its location, size, age and condition. These aspects are all taken into account when suggestions for saving energy are made, as they will be specific to the property, rather than general advice. The average UK property is rated a ‘D’ or even ‘E’ grade.
How much does an EPC cost?
There is no one fixed cost for an EPC, so it is recommended you shop around for quotes from different people to see what the market rate is. However, the cost for an EPC will usually range from around £45 to £100, plus VAT. If you want to get the lowest price possible, ensure you get the assessment completed directly, rather than having it arranged via an estate agent.
A variety of other factors will also influence how much an EPC will cost you. For example, the type of property you own, how many bedrooms it has, and the activity that occurs within it. The cost of your EPC can also be influenced by where you property is located and its surrounding area.
This is a checklist for what you can expect an EPC assessor to look at during their inspection of a domestic property:
- The size of your living space, including the height of the main rooms on every floor and the overall dimensions of the property.
- The construction of your house.
- The different types of insulation throughout the property.
- The lighting systems.
- The heating system and controls.
- They will count how many light fittings you have in the property, and how many low energy light bulbs are being used. An EPC survey only includes fixed fittings, so the bulbs in lamps are not counted.
- A detailed inspection of your loft space, if possible, to check on the level and condition of loft insulation. They will also try and establish the type of wall that divides your property from the neighbouring property, if applicable.
- A visual inspection of all windows to check for single, double and triple glazing. If you have a FENSA certificate or BFRC data, you can provide this as evidence about the glazing.
- A significant part of the calculation of an EPC rating is dependant on the boiler, so make it as easy as possible for the EPC assessor to analyse your boiler by providing them with the handbook for the specific model, if you have it.
- Information about the heating controls, thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves will be recorded, alongside details of any other types of heating used at the property, such as log, coal or gas coal-effect fire.
- Photographs will be taken by the assessor of the different elements they are assessing, plus the outside of the property. This is essential as each month the accreditation bodies select a number of surveys to examine, to ensure high standards of work are maintained by assesors.
Be prepared for the EPC assessor to ask you the following questions, if the answers are not immediately obvious to them during the inspection:
- How long ago was the property built?
- If there are any extensions, conversions or other major building work, when were these changes made?
- If the loft has been converted into an activity room, when was this conversion made?
- Has the property previously been inspected for, or does it already have cavity wall insulation?
- Is there any under floor insulation throughout the property? If so, can this be inspected, or do you have the receipts and records from when the work was carried out?
- Have any double glazing windows or doors been very recently added to the property?
- Does the property have a single or a double electricity meter?
- Has any heat recovery technology been installed at the property?
If you require an EPC for a non-domestic property, consider the following checklist:
This checklist offers a guide to the information, and how you might obtain it, that you might need to provide to your Low Carbon Energy Assessor (LCEA) so they can accurately asses your property for an EPC.
- A detailed plan of the building, including its measurements and different activity areas. This will be used to create a full model of the energy performance. If you do not have the plans, you can hire a building surveyor to create a plan, or have your building measured prior to the assessment.
- Information about the occupancy and activities carried out within the building. What a building is used for is important for measuring its energy usage.
- The insulation of the building. This will have been included in any surveys about the property when it was last bought or sold.
- The heating systems used by the building.
- The ventilation and cooling systems used throughout the building.
- How and where electricity is supplied to the building. Locate the point of supply and meter.
- The boiling system that provides hot water.
- Lighting systems.
- Details about any on site energy generation system, such as wind turbines or solar panels.
Some top tips for improving your domestic EPC rating
- Upgrade your heating system, as this is one of the biggest factors used to calculate your EPC rating.
- Improve your loft insulation. One of the most common, cheapest and easiest ways to improve your EPC rating.
- Cavity wall insulation
- Solid wall insulation. The EPC rating will be lower for solid walled properties, but they can be insulated internally or externally, boosting your EPC rating.
- Switch your lightbulbs to energy efficient versions.
- Add draught proofing.
- Insulate your hot water cylinder, if you have one.
- Upgrade your windows glazing to double or triple.
- Maintain accurate documentation of any previous installation work done, as you can show this to the assessor as evidence, even if they can’t actually access the insulation during the inspection.
- Seal open chimneys. If possible, permanently block up open chimneys to improve the EPC rating.
Utilise renewable energy sources. For example, adding solar panels to your property can add a significant amount of points to your rating. Wind turbines can also help improve your rating, but usually only for larger turbines in rural areas, as urban turbines produce too little electricity to have a major impact.