EPCs – what are they?
Energy Performance Certificates, also referred to as EPCs, have been introduced in an effort to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. It was originally a European Directive but the UK government have linked it to the process of selling properties, when properties are let and to gain finance for energy efficiency improvement
An EPC is a report on the property. It states the efficiency as an A to G rating (A representing excellent performance and G being very poor) shown in a barchart in a similar way to those on domestic appliances like refridgerators.
An average property should expect a D rating. Better rating are achieved by newer builds or upgraded properties with better insulation or the most efficient heating systems. Older properties with less insulation and less efficient heating systems would expect a lower rating.
On 20th September 2020 the government introduced a new version of the EPC. It is now only available online. It is Possible to print a copy.
The certificate gives an estimate of fuel running costs. These costs are unlikely to reflect your actual fuel costs as they are based on a formula to standardize the fuel usage & occupancy to allow one property to be easily compared to another.
There is an advisory section explaining the rating and recommended works to improve the energy efficiency of your premises. The recommendations give you an idea of the most cost effective ways to reduce your fuel costs.
The EPC is recorded on a database by the government. It is possible to search for an EPC using your Post Code.
The certificate must be prepared by an authorized assessor (DEA) who will visit your property to gather the information to produce the EPC. The survey is non invasive i.e. they gather information using what they can see and measure, together with any documentary evidence provided. Note that the DEA cannot take a homeowners word alone for any changes made. i.e. the changes must be visible or documentary evidence supplied. If you are planning to make improvement, particularly insulation that will be covered up, make sure you retain supporting documentation. This is particularly important for Loft Conversions. Ask your builder to document what has been installed on their headed paper and retain it.
The EPC reflects the property at the time of the visit. It will not take into account any future changes you intend to make (another visit will be required once work is completed).
There are a number of accreditation schemes. Bristol Idea use Elmhurst Energy. 2% of all EPCs produced are audited by the accreditation schemes.
EPC – Buying/Selling a Property
An EPC must be commissioned, although not necessarily received, before the property is placed on the market. The EPC must be available within 7 days of the property being marketed. The EPC has to be less than 10 years old when the property is placed for sale. If you already have an EPC, from when you bought the property, you can reuse it. If you fail to provide an EPC the Trading Standards Officer can issue a notice with a £200 penalty. There are circumstances when an EPC is not required, for example, you do not require an EPC to sell your property if it is scheduled for demolition or has been marked in the sales particulars as not currently in a habitable state.
If you are the buyer ask for a file of evidence of changes that have been made to the property since it was built. e.g. dates of extensions, builders documentation of insulation installed (particularly important for loft conversions), Fensa certificates for new windows (particularly important for post 2002 installation), guarantees for cavity wall and loft insulation (even if the guarantees have run out they are vualable evidence for any future EPC)
EPC – Renting out a Property
From October 2008 Landlords were required to provide an EPC to new tenants. An EPC is not required if you are just renting out a room (the property must be ‘self contained’ to required an EPC). Whether or not you require an EPC also depends on how the contract is written with the tenants (as the property must be ‘self contained’ if the property is let to more than one tenant, each with their own contract with you, there is no requirement for an EPC). Once produced the EPC is valid for 10 years. If you fail to provide an EPC to your tenant the Trading Standards Officer can issue a notice with a £200 penalty per dwelling in addition to the requirement to provide the missing EPC.
From April 2018 Properties can only be let if they achieve a Band E. The rules are quite complex and in October 2017 the government produced guidelines for Landlords. MEES impacts new lets, placing the onus on the Landlord to find funding from one of a number of schemes and, from 1 April 2019, with a £3,500 cap per property placed on the Landlord if no funding is available. Find our more…..
MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard)
From April 2018 Properties can only be let if they achieve a Band E. The rules are quite complex and in October 2017 the government produced guidelines for Landlords. MEES impacts new lets, placing the onus on the Landlord to find funding from one of a number of schemes and, from 1 April 2019, with a £3,500 cap per property placed on the Landlord if no funding is available. Find our more….
Making Improvements to you home?
When upgrading your home maintain a file of evidence of the changes you are making. When the Energy Assessor comes to produce an EPC for you they will need independent evidence of anything in the building that is not visible. This is particularly important for insulation where the changes are being covered up and cannot be seen. Documentation should be on the builder’s headed paper, show the property address and details of the work carried out:
- For Loft Conversions – detail the type and thickness of the insulation being installed to the walls and roof.
- For internal wall insulation – details the type and thickness of the insulation and the walls that have been done (diagrams help here)
- For Cavity Wall Insulation – only required if drill marks on the external walls are to be covered up
- New Windows – the date of the installation and which windows have been replaced
- Floor Insulation – the type and thickness of the insulation
- Solar Thermal or PV – full specifications of what has been installed
If you are not using a builder and do any of this installation work yourself then retain bills for materials and take pictures. The pictures need to be dated. Place a ruler against the insulation to show the thickness. The more photographs the better including ones that clearly identify the property in question.
Beware. Some changes will dramatically reduce the EPC. Storage Heaters produce a much better rating than Electric Panels Heaters. Any secondary heater, particularly open fires or gas coal effect will also reduce the rating.
It is always worth taking advise before starting refurbishment work on the likely impact on the EPC.
EPC – Holiday Lets
From 30th June 2011 an EPC is also required for properties rented out as holiday lets for 4 or more months of the year. The EPC must be commissioned by the owner before the property can be rented out. Mobile homes and caravans are not considered to be buildings and are exempt from the requirement. Similarly renting out individual rooms as part of a B&B is also exempt. The EPC is valid for 10 years.
EPC – Feed In Tariff (FIT)
This scheme closed on 31 March 2019
EPC – New Build or Conversion to Domestic Use
An EPC is produced using a Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) was first introduced in 1995. It was the UK Governments recommended method for assessing the typical energy costs for space and water heating and incorporated lighting from 2005. This methodology is still used for new build and when buildings are newly converted for residential use. It is a mandatory requirement and is used to check compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations.
For existing domestic properties a simplified version referred to as RdSAP was brought in during 2007.
Bristol Idea carry out RdSAP EPCs and not full SAP for new build and conversions. However, Elmhurst Energy provide a search facility to look for an Assessor who will provide EPCs for New Build and Conversions.
Exemptions for the need to have an EPC
There are a number of situations when an EPC is not required to sell or rent out your property. These include:
- Any building which has been listed by English Heritage (or its Welsh equivalent).
- Holiday lets that are used for less than 4 months a year
- The property is to be demolished
- The property is not ‘self contained’. To be self contained the property must have a bathroom and kitchen for sole use of the property and not shared.
If you can’t find your EPC then it is possible to track it down from the EPB Register.
Alternatively your estate/letting agent can check if an EPC exists.
If we produced the EPC for you then we will email a link to it free of charge. If you want a printed copy posted then there will be a nominal charge for this service.
Energy Advise, Grants and Funding Improvements
|Impartial Advise||You can also obtain impartial advice on how to save energy. The Energy Savings Trust have a really useful on-line tool which finds and compares the grants that are available to help you improve the energy efficiency of your property and save you money on your fuel cost. Find out more…..|
|The Energy Company Obligation (ECO)||The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) provides subsidies for improvements to specific properties. Subsidies are targeted at the poorest households and the most hard to treat housing stock (e.g. those with solid wall). Find Out More…|
|The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)||The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) provides financial incentives to encourage the take up of renewal heat technologies. Installations of heat pumps,and solar thermal for off gas grid households qualify for support. The scheme will cover installations back to 2009.. Find Out More …|
Need to change your gas boiler ?
From 1 April 2009 gas engineers must register on the new Gas Safe Register. Make sure that any engineer you choose is registered.
Need an Electrician?
Make sure you use a registered competent electrician. You’ll find the on the Electric Safe Register.
Low Energy Lighting
One of the areas that the EPC takes into account when assessing the energy efficiency of your property is the proportion of fixtures that contain low energy light bulbs. The old incandescent bulbs are being gradually phased out but halogen bulbs are also classed as high energy for the EPC. When buying low energy bulbs the packaging contains a lot of information that can help you decide which ones will suit your purpose. Rather than look at the Wattage you should look at the panel that gives the Lumens rating which will tell you how bright the bulb will be.
|Low Energy Lumens||Incandescent Wattage|
|200 – 500||40W|
|500 – 700||60W|
There is an additional panel which tells you the colour of the light the bulb will produce – warm white (like the old incandescent bulbs), cold white (one to look for if you want to work under the light) or blue light.
Low energy bulbs will take time to come up to full brightness, the best will do this in under a minute, this should be on the packaging. Alternatively if you use LED lighting this will be instantly bright when you switch it on.
Also on the packaging will be confirmation if the bulb can be used with dimmer switches.
Updated by the webmaster Wendy October 2020