All domestic and commercial buildings in the UK available to buy or rent must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). If you own a home, getting an energy performance survey done could help you identify ways to save money on your energy bills and improve the comfort of your home.
Much like the multi-coloured sticker on new appliances, EPCs tell you how energy efficient a building is and give it a rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). EPCs let the person who will use the building know how costly it will be to heat and light, and what its carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.
The EPC will also state 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 when issued.
Your property's EPC needs to be available to potential buyers as soon as you start to market your property for sale or rent. You must get an approved Domestic Energy Assessor to produce the EPC. If you’re buying or renting a property, an EPC allows you to compare the energy efficiency of different properties easily.
An EPC also highlights the energy efficiency improvements you could make, how much they will cost and how much you could save. This can be useful when looking to improve your current property, or if you’re looking to buy and improve.
Bear in mind that any figures for energy use and potential savings are for a typical household in that property – they’re not tailored to you, your family or housemates or your lifestyle.
If you do implement any of the energy efficiency recommendations outlined in your EPC, you may wish to get a fresh EPC to include these improvements.
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.
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, 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 etc.), 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 case, as you can see, the potential savings add up to nearly £4,000 over three years in this three bedroom semi-detached house.
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 section is a summary of energy efficiency actions that you can take, with the potential savings attached to each action. You’re just given the highest priorities here, but there’s more detail on page three of the EPC.
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 (five’s 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.
This is where you’ll find a list of any low or zero-carbon energy technology in the property. The above image shows a property with both solar water heating and solar PV for renewable electricity generation.
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.
Not only that; they 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.
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 look into, if you have more time and financial resource available to you.
The EPC’s final page begins with basic information about the EPC, including the date of assessment and the assessor and their accrediting body.
It concludes with some information about environmental impact. This shows the carbon emissions from the property, compares them to the average, and illustrates how much you could reduce them by making improvements.
You also get current and potential ratings shown on a scale similar to the energy efficiency rating, with higher scores being better once again.
This section is of particular value to those interested in sustainability, not just financial savings. Ratings for CO2 emissions can be useful in comparing the impact of different properties, and understanding how much the impact can be reduced.
With greater links between home energy performance and financial services proposed over the coming years, there is ever more reason to cast a close eye over EPCs when you’re searching for the ideal home.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, only accredited Domestic Energy Assessors can produce valid EPCs.
If you are selling or renting your home through an estate agent, they may be able to arrange for the EPC to be completed for you.
For more information on EPCs in England and Wales, visit the EPC pages at Directgov.
For more information on EPCs in Northern Ireland, visit NI direct and see the Department of Finance office’s information on EPCs.
If you are in Scotland, only organisations approved by the Scottish Government can produce valid EPCs. Visit the Scottish Government website to find a list of approved EPC organisations.
If you are selling your home through a selling agent, you should ask them to arrange for a Home Report (which will include an Energy Report and EPC) to be made.
Energy Reports can only be produced by chartered surveyors registered with RICs. Find a surveyor.
For more information on Home Reports in Scotland, including EPCs, please visit the Scottish Government's Home Report pages.
Get more practical tips and advice on epcs and how to use the information they provide in our blog.Read our blog
Installing energy efficiency upgrades, such as insulation or draught-proofing, will make your home warmer as well as help alleviate many causes of damp and mould whilst lowering energy bills.View our guide
Call Home Energy Scotland (HES) advisors on 0808 808 2282. All calls are free and they're available Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and on Saturday from 9am to 5pm.Contact HES