What is an EPC rating? Energy Performance Certificates explained
This guide is intended to provide general guidance only. It is not intended to give you advice on your personal financial circumstances. You should seek independent professional advice if you’re unsure about anything mentioned in this guide or what choices to make.
What is an EPC?
An EPC or Energy Performance Certificate gives a list of statistics showing how energy efficient a property is, rating it for energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. It shows how much energy the property uses, whether it’s energy efficient, and whether its owner would be eligible for certain benefits because their lifestyle is relatively ‘green’.
It also gives the building a score to show how much carbon it generates. It then recommends ways to reduce the property’s energy use and save money. It’s similar to the EU energy labels you see nowadays on electrical appliances like fridges, freezers or washing machines.
Why would my home need an Energy Performance Certificate?
Under current law, you can’t sell your home or let it unless you can provide your buyers or tenants with an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate.
This means that all homes that have been newly built, are on the market, or are available to rent must have an Energy Performance Certificate.
In Scotland, the building’s Energy Performance Certificate must be on view within the property – for example, next to one of the energy meters or by the boiler.
I’m planning to buy or rent a property – how will its EPC help me?
If you’re looking at properties to buy or rent, make sure you always ask to see their EPCs. Don’t accept any excuses – the vendor, landlord or agent must show you the property’s Energy Performance Certificate.
The certificate will show you how much it could cost you to heat and light the building. If you’re looking at several properties, you can use their certificates to compare their running costs and help you decide which one would be best for your needs and budget.
The Energy Performance Certificate gives two ratings: the first one shows how energy efficient the property is at the moment, and the second rating shows how much better it could be if you or the landlord made energy-saving improvements.
If you’re buying the property, these figures will help you work out how much you might have to spend on improving the building’s energy efficiency and installing more up-to-date heating, insulation and possibly solar panels.
You can find other useful information about moving home here
How long does an Energy Performance Certificate last?
An Energy Performance Certificate is valid for 10 years. However, if you’ve made energy- saving improvements to your home during that time, and now you’re planning to sell or let it, it’s worth applying for a new assessment to improve your home’s rating.
How does the Energy Performance Certificate display the figures for each property?
On the certificate, you’ll see a range of grades from A to G.
A is dark green. An A rating of between 92 and 100 points means the property is extremely energy efficient and will have low running costs.
G is red. It represents a rating of 1 – 20 points and suggests that the property is not at all energy efficient, so its running costs will be high.
Most homes will fall somewhere in between (probably D, which has a value of 55 – 68 points), and only brand-new eco-homes are likely to achieve a dark green A rating.
The certificate shows the property’s current rating, and what its rating could be if various improvements were carried out.
What other information will I find on an Energy Performance Certificate?
The Energy Performance Certificate will also tell you:
- How much energy the property uses
- Its level of carbon dioxide emissions
- How much you are likely to spend on fuel
- Who carried out the inspection for the Energy Performance Certificate
- Who you should contact if you want to make a complaint
Will an Energy Performance Certificate help me work out whether my energy-saving improvements are working?
Yes – the EPC gives you a record of your home’s current energy efficiency and carbon emissions. If you get it re-assessed after you’ve installed energy-saving measures, you’ll be able to see where and how much they’ve improved your property’s energy efficiency.
Will an Energy Performance Certificate help me apply for benefits or Feed-In Tariff payments?
Yes – the estimates in your certificate will influence your eligibility for various support and payments, including your Feed-In Tariff payments.
I’m selling my home, and the Energy Performance Certificate has recommended energy-saving improvements. Do I have to make them?
No – there’s no obligation to carry out the changes suggested in the report. However, if you did make the improvements, you would probably improve your home’s energy rating – and reduce its running costs – This could make it more attractive to potential buyers.
When you’re selling in a very competitive market, anything that gives your home an edge over other properties could help you sell it faster or even achieve a better price. Energy prices are unlikely to go down, so lower running costs and more efficiency should be appealing to buyers.
Future governments may introduce tax benefits and allowances for homeowners who can show that their homes use less energy, so this might also make your home more attractive to far-sighted purchasers.
How do I apply for an Energy Performance Certificate?
You need to get in touch with a qualified domestic-energy assessor who will come and check your property and issue its Energy Performance Certificate. If you’re using an estate agent or property management company, they may already have a domestic energy assessor who they can recommend. They may even have one on their staff.
If not, to find an assessor near you, visit:
- EPCregister.com - If your property is in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
- Gov.scot - if it's in Scotland
What will the assessor do?
The domestic-energy assessor will visit your property and:
- Measure it
- Look at how it’s built
- Check how it’s heated
- Check whether or how it’s insulated
- Take photographs of all these aspects (just for the assessment – they won’t be available to the public)
They then use this data, and consult the building regulations at the date the property was built, to produce their report.
They won’t make any actual tests – for example, they won’t drill into your walls to confirm that you have cavity wall insulation. They’ll simply look for the drill holes or ask to see your certificate or guarantee for the work.
Most EPC surveys take between 30 and 45 minutes.
How much does an Energy Certificate cost?
There is no set price for the assessment and certificate – it can cost anything from £60 up to £120. For example, a small studio flat would cost less than a six-bedroom detached house because the assessor won’t take as long to do the survey. However, even these prices can vary according to:
- Where the property is
- Whether you’ve contacted the assessor yourself or are arranging things through an estate agent or property management company
- How quickly you need it done
Do all buildings need an Energy Performance Certificate?
Any building that is newly built, or about to be sold or rented out, will need an EPC if it uses any kind of heating or air conditioning.
The legal definition is that it uses energy to ‘condition an indoor climate’ – in other words, to make an indoor area (somewhere with a roof and walls) warmer or cooler.
Energy Performance Certificates aren’t just essential for private homes. They apply to most buildings, so you will also need a commercial Energy Performance Certificate if you’re building, letting or selling business premises.
I’ve got solar panels – do I need an Energy Performance Certificate to get a Feed-In Tariff?
If you want to get the standard rate from the Feed-In Tariff, you’ll need to get an EPC and have a rating of between D and A.
If your home has a rating between E and G, you’ll get a lower rate tariff.
Your tariff is calculated on your home’s rating when you first apply, and it won’t make any difference if you make improvements and get a better EPC rating later on. So it makes sense to get an Energy Performance Certificate, carry out the suggested improvements and get a second assessment before you apply for your Feed-In Tariff.
I’m getting an assessment as part of my Green Deal application. Will that include an Energy Performance Certificate?
Yes – your EPC will show how you could improve your home’s energy efficiency and what the Green Deal could help to pay for.
Are there any buildings that don’t need an Energy Performance Certificate?
There are a few, such as:
- Temporary buildings that will be used for less than two years
- Some listed buildings
- Holiday homes that are let for less than four months each year
Visit this page for a complete list.
Can I get an Energy Performance Certificate for my home even if I’m not planning to sell or let it?
Yes – it’s an excellent way to check up on your home’s energy efficiency and find out how you could improve it. You can then carry out the suggestions to make your home cozier to live in and cheaper to run.
How can I make improvements to make sure I get a good rating in my Energy Performance Certificate?
If you insulate your roof and walls, improve your heating system and are generally quite careful, you can save around £300 a year. You’ll also cut your home’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around 1.5 tonnes – so you’re helping the planet, too.
For example, you could:
- Fill that cavity. Cavity wall insulation can cut around £115 off your heating bill each year
- Replace all your old windows with double glazing – it could save you around £135 each year
- If your boiler’s more than 15 years old, look into replacing it with a new A-rated condensing boiler or have a look at our guide on how to improve your boiler efficiency.
- Slip an insulating jacket on your hot water tank – you could save around £35 a year
See our full energy saving guide for more details.