Much like the multi-coloured sticker on new appliances, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) tell you how energy efficient a building is and give it a rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). They’ll tell you how costly it will be to heat and light your property, and what its carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.
An EPC also includes information on what the energy efficiency rating could be if you made the recommended improvements and highlights cost effective ways to achieve a better rating. Even if you rent your home, you could still implement some improvements noted on the EPC, such as switching to more energy efficient light bulbs.
EPCs are valid for 10 years from the date of issue.
Why get an EPC?
If you’re looking to sell or rent out your home, you need an EPC before it goes on the market. You must get an approved domestic energy assessor to produce the EPC.
If you’re looking for a property to buy or rent a property, the EPC lets you compare the energy efficiency of different properties easily. Properties in Scotland must display its EPC rating, for example, near the boiler or meter cupboard.
The EPC also gives recommendations to improve your rating. If you make any of the energy efficiency recommendations outlined in your EPC, you may want to get a new EPC to factor in these improvements.
What can you expect to see on your EPC?
It’s worth noting that not all EPCs look the same. In this guide, we are using a 2017 certificate as an example. Older certificates will have most of this information, although it may look a bit different and may be in a different order.
Please note that EPCs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have moved to a new format, which looks different to the example we have used here from Scotland. The sections and information covered are identical.
The first page of your EPC starts with an estimate of the current and potential energy bills of the property. This is useful for knowing how much a new property will cost to run in energy bills, as well as how much lower the running costs could be if the energy efficiency was improved.
These costs are just for your heating, hot water and lighting. The EPC doesn’t include any additional energy costs from your home appliances (such as the cost of running your fridge, oven, TV) so in reality your energy bills will be a bit higher. However, the costs shown can help you compare properties and see which building could be cheaper to run.
In this example, the potential savings add up to nearly £4,000 over three years in this three-bedroom semi-detached house.
Energy efficiency rating
The next table you see on page one is a quick visual comparison of property performance similar to the energy labels you get on home appliances. Your property has a current energy efficiency rating. These range from A-G, with A being the best. Some EPCs also have a similar chart for a property’s environmental performance.
It also shows the potential rating if you carry out all the suggested improvements. In this example, you can see that the home could jump from band F to B with the recommended energy efficiency upgrades.
This page gives you a detailed breakdown of each element of your property, with a description and an energy rating from one to five stars (with five being the best) to help you understand the effectiveness of its construction, heating and hot water system, and lighting. This can be especially useful for comparing with other properties when you’re looking to buy or rent.
Our example has an efficient heating system and some roof insulation, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.
Low carbon energy
This section looks at how much heat you’re expected to use in the property and how you can reduce that by improving the insulation.
Now we arrive at perhaps the most important section of the EPC: the recommendations.
Numbers on a page mean nothing unless you take action. Here you get a detailed breakdown of the recommended measures, costs, savings and how much each measure could improve the property’s energy efficiency rating.
The recommended measures are shown in order of importance, and the energy efficiency improvements figures are based on making the improvements in that order. Of course, you might not be able to complete them all, or in the order listed, but it’s a good guide.
The number of recommended measures will vary, depending on which ones are applicable to your property. In this example, the first priority is wall insulation, and if the homeowner is really committed to bringing the rating up to B, the checklist ends with the installation of solar PV panels.
This image shows the performance ratings after improvements listed below, however they only assume the improvements have been installed in the order they appear in the table. For more information you can refer to the energy grants calculator.
In the table it shows that properties that took recommended measures in terms of internal of external wall insulation, the indicative cost is £4,000 – £14,000. The typical savings per year amount to £510. The rating after improvement is E51 and is supported through Green Deal finance.
Floor insulation (suspended floor) has an indicative cost of £800 – £1,200, with typical savings per year amounting to £73. The rating after improvement is E53. If you wanted to take up measures be aware that you may need to contribute to some of the payment upfront.
With recommended measures for increases in hot water cylinder insulation, the indicative costs is between £15 – £30. The typical savings per year amount to £94. The rating after improvement is D56. The recommended measures are supported through the Green Deal finance.
When it comes to low energy lighting for all fixed outlets, the indicative cost is £70 and the typical savings per year is £49. Rating after improvement is listed as D56. There is no green deal finance with low energy lightning.
When it comes to heating controls (room thermostat and TRVs) the indicative costs are £350 – £450. The typical saving is £108, and the rating after improvement is listed as D62. The recommended measures are supported through the Green Deal finance.
When it comes to replacing a boiler with new condensing boiler, the indicative costs are £2,200 – £3,000. The typical saving is £314, and the rating after improvement is listed as C72. If you wanted to take up measures be aware that you may need to contribute to some of the payment upfront.
When it comes to solar water heating, the indicative costs are £4,000 – £6,000. The typical saving is £46, and the rating after improvement is listed as C74. If you wanted to take up measures be aware that you may need to contribute to some of the payment upfront.
When it comes to replacing single glazed windows with low-E double glazed windows the indicative costs are £3,300 – £6,500. The typical saving is £86, and the rating after improvement is listed as C77. If you wanted to take up measures be aware that you may need to contribute to some of the payment upfront.
When it comes to solar photovoltaic panels, 2.5 kWp the indicative costs are £5,000 – £8,000. The typical saving is £284, and the rating after improvement is listed as B35. If you wanted to take up measures be aware that you may need to contribute to some of the payment upfront.
The next section lists other measures that can improve the energy efficiency of the property. Although there is less information about potential costs and savings, these alternatives can be something to consider, if you have more time and financial resources available to you.