Understanding your EPC

Need an offline copy?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a document that explains the energy efficiency of a property.

It is a useful guide for would-be buyers and tenants to estimate the running costs of the property and provides recommendations for owners or tenants on ways to improve the energy efficiency of the property.

What is an EPC?

EPCs provide both a numerical grade, between 1 and 100 (and occasionally 120 depending on renewable energy measures) and a lettered grade between A and G with A being the highest, of your property’s energy efficiency. If you have a newer home, it is likely to have a higher rating, while older homes are often rated around D or E, the average UK household rating is grade D (60).

As well as showing you the property’s current rating, it will provide a potential score that could be reached provided a number of energy efficiency measures are installed. By law, all buildings which are newly built, or have been sold or rented since 1st October 2008 require an EPC. EPCs are valid for 10 years and to see if your property has one, use the EPC database.

Information Display on an EPC

As well as showing an overall rating for your property. Your EPC will display the household’s estimated energy costs. This small table is an estimate of how much your home is going to cost for lighting, heating, and hot water over the next 3 years. It also shows the potential costs and savings if you installed all the recommended measures.

Next, the EPC shows a detailed breakdown of your home’s characteristics related to its energy use and provides a star rating out of 5 for how energy efficient the feature is. The table first explores how well insulated your home is, assessing the walls, roof, floor, and windows. It then looks at how your property is heated. For heating, the energy efficiency rating is purely from a cost perspective. Therefore, although you may have a super-efficiency oil boiler/storage heater, it may only be given 2 or 3 stars due to the high price of oil/electricity compared to gas. Last, the table assesses the efficiency of your hot water and lighting.

Arguably the most important section of your EPC is the recommended measures. This is a list of suggested improvements to be made to more efficiently insulate, heat, and power your home to reduce your energy bills. The table also provides an indicative cost for each measure, the typical savings to your energy bills per year, and the EPC rating your property would be after the measure is installed.

The order of measures is the recommended order installation. Those at the top will make the biggest difference to the efficiency and the price of your energy bills compared to the cost of measure and should be prioritised. It’s important to note that the’ indicative costs’ are just that, an indication, and the actual cost of the measure will vary depending on the size of the property and the company doing the installation. It’s always wise to get at least two costs when getting any work done to make sure you’re not being overcharged. 

For insulation and heating measures there may be Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding available. Some of this funding is means dependent but there is also non-means-tested funding available which is based on carbon savings. To see if you’re eligible, contact your energy provider, or research local installers who can access ECO funding.  

Finally, there’s an ‘About this document’ section which provides details of the assessor and the accreditation scheme. If you don’t understand something on your certificate or you disagree with it, the first place to go is the energy assessor that carried out the EPC but if they can’t resolve your issue, you can contact their accreditation scheme, and the details will also be listed in the same section of the certificate.

Buying, renting or selling a property

If you’re buying or renting a property, you should never be charged for an EPC, it should be provided free of charge, otherwise, the seller could be fined £200. Likewise, if you’re a landlord or selling the property, you must get the certificate ordered before you put the property on the market. To get an EPC produced, it’s best to avoid going through an Estate Agent and go directly to a Domestic Energy Assessor to get the best deal. It’s also advisable to shop around, as the cost can vary but there should be no difference in quality between an expensive EPC and a cheaper one.

If you’re a private tenant, from 1st April 2018, your landlord will be required to make your property rated at least a grade E due to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) coming into place.

Need an offline copy?