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Understanding Energy Performance Certificates

understanding energy performance certificates

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) aren’t just pieces of paper; they’re powerful tools that save money and protect the environment. Whether you’re a homeowner, prospective buyer, or renter, understanding EPCs is crucial as they highlight a building’s efficiency and provide guidelines on how to improve it. 

If you’re unsure of how EPCs work or what they mean, we’ve got everything you need to know right here. 

So, stick around as we explore why these certificates are important and what each rating means. 

What are Energy Performance Certificates?

EPCs are four-page documents that specify a property’s energy efficiency. They use a colour coded system, with ratings going from A to G, with A being the highest and G being the worst rating. 

High ratings indicate that a property is highly energy efficient and doesn’t cost much to run, while anything lower than E means the property is not only expensive to run – but also harms the environment. 

How do EPCs work?

As you can see from this table, all EPCs have an alphabetical and numerical score: 

Letter Numerical Score 
A92 and over 

Aside from your official score, you’ll also receive a potential score, which details how energy-efficient your property should be if you make changes. 

The certificate recommends how to upgrade your property, including adding insulation, upgrading your windows and opting for low-energy lightbulbs. All of these can save money and reduce your carbon footprint. 

Do I need to have an EPC?

Since 2008, EPCs have been legal requirements for residential and commercial properties sold or let out (GOV.UK)

Not getting a certificate for residential and commercial buildings could lead to significant fines. However, there are some exceptions to the rule, including: 

  • Rented rooms within houses that don’t have private doors. 
  • Some listed buildings (although this depends on the property). 
  • Properties that are unable to undergo modifications to enhance their energy efficiency. For example, listed buildings often have strict rules regarding improvements. 

Landlords that rent properties out must ensure a minimum EPC rating of E. Trying to rent a property with a lower energy rating could have serious repercussions. 

Why are EPCs important?

why are epcs important

While it’s easy to focus on EPCs as a legal requirement, obtaining information about a property’s efficiency can help prospective buyers or renters decide whether it’s the right option for them. 

In a society increasingly concerned about its carbon footprint, many people will prioritise buildings with high ratings, as they can save money and not worry about wasting energy. 

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average energy rating for properties in England and Wales is D, but properties with higher ratings will secure more attention and become viable prospects in competitive markets. 

How do EPC assessments work?

Energy Performance Certificates can only be issued by a certified assessor, who will thoroughly inspect the property. They’ll look at multiple factors, including: 

  • The building’s size, construction type and age 
  • Which primary heating controls it has 
  • Whether you use renewable energy sources 
  • Your wall, floor and loft insulation
  • The type of light bulbs the property uses 
  • Whether the windows are double or triple-glazed 

After the assessor has this information, they’ll calculate an energy-efficiency rating and provide a certificate with recommendations. 

You’ll usually receive the document a few days after the assessment, but it depends on the property’s size. 

Are EPC assessments expensive?

Property owners usually pay between £35 and £120, depending on the number of bedrooms in the building. Prospective renters and buyers don’t have to pay to see EPC information, as it’s the legal responsibility of owners to obtain certificates. 

How to enhance your property’s EPC rating 

Receiving a low energy efficiency rating might seem like a significant blow, but you can take steps to reduce your carbon footprint and make the property a more attractive prospect. 

From installing insulation to investing in greener alternatives to gas boilers, the following methods can increase your EPC rating. 

Improve insulation 

Adding loft, floor and wall insulation can prevent heat from escaping your property and maintain a consistent temperature. Most people opt for loft insulation as it’s the most affordable solution and easy to install. 

However, wall and floor insulation often requires specialist support. Your Energy Performance Certificate will detail which areas need insulating. 

Use renewable energy sources 

Advances in technology mean we now have access to a range of renewable energy sources, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Installing solar panels is a huge step forward in terms of sustainability if you want to enhance your property’s efficiency. 

Many residential and commercial properties are also exploring heat pumps, which are affordable to install. Heat pumps also have the advantage of being able to heat and cool a property. 

Update your glazing 

Single-glazed windows lack thermal and acoustic insulation, resulting in lost heat and inconsistent temperatures. Double glazing is ideal for homes in suburban areas, while triple glazing offers the most protection. 

If you already have double or triple glazing, sealing around the windows and using draught excluders can prevent heat loss. 

Upgrade your boiler 

If you have a traditional gas boiler, upgrading it to a combi-boiler will reduce your carbon footprint and energy bills. 

As most combi boilers have condensing functions, they can capture the heat emitted from flue gases, potentially increasing their efficiency by up to 90%. Biomass boilers are also growing in popularity but cost more upfront. 

Invest in efficient appliances 

Remember, kitchen appliances also have energy ratings, from A-G and newer models are more efficient. 

Assessors look at how much energy your appliances use, and upgrading them could lead to a higher EPC rating. 

The bottom line 

Energy Performance Certificates are often deciding factors for prospective renters and buyers. Enhancing your property’s energy efficiency will reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to the environment. 

Once you receive your certificate, the recommendations are easy to implement. If you’d like to explore greener energy alternatives, please feel free to contact us today. We offer a range of cost-effective renewable energy solutions.

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