While the EPC lists building features, there are key areas to check up on when visiting a property. Firstly, insulation. You can see for yourself that what’s said to be there is indeed there, and also take a look at the age and wear and tear of loft insulation, if the property has an attic space.
Leaking roofs and gutters can allow water to enter walls – so if the property has insulated cavities, also check that gutters are clean and there’s no staining on exterior walls.
It’s also well worth checking the windows. High-quality double glazing would be the best option, but proper sealing to cut cold draughts is a good basic quality to look out for.
The type of thermostats that are installed is also important. Thermostatic radiator valves, a programmer and a room thermostat, when controlled properly, can save £75 a year in a typical three-bed, gas-heated home, as well as cutting your home’s carbon emissions by 320kg. If the property doesn’t have them, that’s another potential cost to factor in – but you may want to go further and install smart heating controls that can be operated from your smartphone.
Beyond these basics, it’s worth considering homes that have renewable energy features. The most likely renewable technology you might encounter are solar PV panels. They reduce your electricity bills, cut your carbon emissions and, if you live in Great Britain, you can apply for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which pays you for the electricity you generate.
The SEG replaced the previous Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme on 1 January 2020. There are a few things to check first, before you can apply for SEG payments. The solar panels and whoever installed them must be certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) or equivalent. You will also need a registered smart meter that records your exported electricity, even if you’re not signing up to a smart tariff.