How to effortlessly read your Energy Performance Certificate

How to effortlessly read your Energy Performance Certificate

Have you recently purchased, are you renting or are looking to do either?

If so, you may have come across a certificate mixed in with the estate agents’ pictures.

At this point you will probably think “I have seen what I want to see,” and close the gallery (guilty!). But what you caught sight of was the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property – and there is a good reason why you saw this mixed in with the pretty house pictures.

I will let you know four helpful tips on the EPC and why it may influence your future decisions.

Knowing your A to Gs

example EPC rating scaleA bit like getting to know your A, B, Cs – one of the most important things to know on your EPC is the A to G.

A green-to-red graph appears on the first page. Many of us notice that the scale looks very familiar, and this is because it is much like the scales used for appliances.

A (above 92 out of 100) is the most efficient and G (1-20) is the least efficient. So, how does your property get this rating and why does it matter?

The rating is calculated from an on-site assessment, it considers the property’s:

  • Floor area
  • Type and attachment (House, bungalow etc)
  • Insulation (Walls, floors, and roof)
  • Window type
  • Main heating and hot water
  • Lighting

All the above are listed on page two of the certificate in a table (see example below). If there are two descriptions in the box, this is likely because an extension has been added or part of the property has been built differently, for example a timber floor and concrete floor.

example EPC results tableThe EPC rating is very important, as it indicates how much energy is required to heat the property over the course of a year.

Under the government’s minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) it is illegal for landlords to rent out a property rated F or G, which are the buildings which are most difficult or expensive for tenants to heat.

The average rating for homes across the UK is a D, in the middle of the efficiency scale, but do not worry though if your rating is lower than this. There are measures you can put in place to improve the rating.

Reviewing the recommendations

If you think you have found your dream house, but discover the EPC rating is a F, fear not!

Look at page three of the EPC and you will find recommendations for the property. You can see a list of everything from replacing a few light bulbs to fitting a whole new boiler. At first glance, this can look quite overwhelming, especially if there are many options available to improve the rating of your home.

Reading the columns from left to right you will see the recommendations, their approximate cost, typical financial savings to expect per year and the improvement you would see in your EPC rating if actioned.

EPC recommendations table

You may look at your list of recommendations and, say if solar panels are recommended last in the table, think “aha! if I just install solar then my property automatically goes to a B-rating, right?” Unfortunately, no! All measures have to be installed before you reach the B rating. Think of each recommendation as a step to reach the peak. In the pictured example, if you install loft insulation to 270mm and cavity wall insulation, then the rating will increase to an E40.

Some measures may not be possible to install in your property, or you may want a different system installed. In the example, new double glazing may not be possible to install due to planning restrictions; floor insulation may be too disruptive to consider; or you may want a combination boiler installed rather than the option laid out in the table.

This is where the recommendations section falls down. How do you know what the rating will be if you decide to install other options? You will not be able to tell unless you ask the assessor to model this when a new EPC survey is carried out. What you will know is the rating will likely improve if a more modern system is installed – but it may not follow the exact ratings laid out in the EPC you have to hand.

What a difference an A makes

There is NO Planet B placard

Great. You have read through the recommendations section and identified what you need to do. But you think to yourself: “what difference is this going to make to my life?”

The impacts can be seen throughout the EPC, and a quick summary can be found on the front page in terms of monetary savings; and on the last page in relation to the amount of carbon that could be saved.

The front page displays an approximate amount you will pay on energy for the home over three years, as well as the potential difference if all recommendations are implemented. In the recommendations section the costs are broken down individually, to give you a better idea of what to budget for.

EPC breakdown of savings

It is worth noting small things can make a big difference. Changing a halogen bulb to a new LED bulb will typically save you 90% per bulb on running costs. Philips has a handy online savings calculator if you fancy counting a few lightbulbs.

You can also see the impact on carbon saved by viewing the bottom of page four. The Committee on Climate Change have produced information on what UK homes will need to look like to support a carbon-neutral future.

No EPC? No problem.

Once produced, the EPC is valid for ten years. However, calculations change, new technologies become available and householders make improvements to their homes – all of which can increase the energy rating for a property.

It is recommended to get a new EPC if you have undertaken major renovations, such as a new heating system, an extension, loft conversion, or if the EPC is nearing its ten-year expiry period.

If there is no EPC you can either wait until you sell or rent out the property, or if you are interested in seeing what the properties rating is you can contact an assessor.

To find a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) – no not the Drug Enforcement Agency… you’re watching too much TV! – go to the EPC register website and type in your postcode to find a local assessor. Alternatively, contact our team at 0800 500 3076 and ask to book an EPC.

You can also find contact details for the DEA who produced the original EPC on the last page of the certificate.

Not just a pretty picture

EPC rating piggy bank

Now you know your A to Gs, how to improve the EPC rating based on recommendations, where to get one from and what difference they can make.

So, have I changed your mind? Will you look at the EPC as another pretty picture in the estate agent pack? Good! At the very least it is a really useful guide to helping you make informed decisions about improving your home. And as Tony Robbins famously said, “Decision is the ultimate power.