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What is an EPC and do you need one?

How energy-efficient a home is could mean hundreds of pounds’ difference when it comes to your energy bills, so it makes total sense that it’s something you’d want to gauge when looking into properties. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is designed to help you do just that, giving you an idea of how energy efficient a given property is before you decide to buy it. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the EPC.

Row of Houses

What is an EPC?

An EPC is a guide that’s shown to would-be buyers and tenants to give them an idea of how energy-efficient a property is before they buy or agree to move in.

Each property is given a rating from A to G - with A being the most energy efficient and G being the least - with better-rated homes having less environmental impact through carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

An EPC makes for a really useful way to work out the running costs of a property – the higher the rating, the more energy efficient it is, and the less you’re likely to spend on heating it.

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Is an EPC a legal requirement?

Anyone selling or letting a building – including private sellers, landlords, letting agencies and construction companies – is required by law to have a valid EPC. The certificate needs to be made available to anyone viewing the property with a view to buying or renting it.

If you don’t have a valid EPC available for a potential buyer or tenant, you could face a fine of 12.5% of the property's rateable value, or a default penalty of £750 if this formula can’t be applied.

There are exceptions, such as listed buildings, which don’t need an EPC because the changes that need to be made to comply with energy efficiency regulations could significantly alter the appearance and character of the building.

Other buildings that don’t need an EPC include:

  • Buildings that are due to be demolished
  • Holiday accommodation and residential buildings used less than four months a year
  • Industrial sites and workshops
  • Places of worship
  • Temporary buildings that are to be used for less than two years
  • Stand-alone buildings with less than 50 square metres of useful floor space

How long does an EPC last?

An EPC is valid for 10 years and can be used any number of times during this period. When your home’s current EPC expires after 10 years, it’s your responsibility to arrange getting a new one. This will then last for another 10 years, but there’s no need to get an EPC unless you’re planning on selling or leasing your property.

How much does an EPC cost?

EPC costs vary, so it’s always worth comparing the rates of registered assessors in your area to get the best price. But as a rough estimate, you should expect to pay between £60 and £120 for an EPC.

How to get an EPC

To get an EPC for your home, go to the EPC register website. Once here, you can find a registered domestic assessor in your area or retrieve an EPC. Here, you can also search the EPC certificate ratings of other properties in your area, so you can compare your property’s rating to others nearby. This comparison service is completely free, and you just need a postcode to get started.

It’s important to only visit these official EPC websites and to make sure any assessor you hire is registered. If you live in Scotland, visit the Scottish EPC register website to search for an assessor or an advisor.

What can an EPC mean for my property?

There are different ways in which an EPC could affect you and your property, depending on whether you’re selling, buying or letting it out.

  • If you’re selling your property

    An EPC can affect the value of your home, particularly if it has a poor rating. Unless your house is being sold with a view to the new owner carrying out extensive work on it, homebuyers will expect it to have a decent energy-efficiency rating. If it has a poor rating, buyers could use this to talk down the price, citing that it will need additional work to meet the required energy efficiency standards.

  • If you’re buying a property

    If a property you’re interested in has a poor EPC rating, you’d be able to use this information to talk down the price by taking off the cost of any necessary energy efficiency measures, such as fitting double glazing or a new boiler. Conversely, if the house does have a good EPC rating, you can expect your energy bills to be lower and manageable.

  • If you’re letting a property

    If you’re leasing a property, there are now minimum energy efficiency standards your property must meet before you can take on tenants. The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 mean you’ll no longer be able to issue a new lease or renew an existing tenancy if your property is rated F or below. As of April 2020, all rental properties need an EPC of at least E, unless there is a specific reason it cannot meet this standard, in which case an exemption must be applied for. These standards also apply on properties which already have a lease in place, and will also be applied to commercial rented property from April 2023.

    If you’re applying for a buy-to-let mortgage, a poor EPC rating could affect your mortgage application. Lenders need proof a property is suitable security to lend against and are now requesting EPCs. If the property you are buying doesn’t meet the required rating, they may refuse to lend.

    For more information, check out our guide to the house buying process.

How can I improve my home’s EPC rating?

Your home’s EPC rating is calculated using the government's Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP), which gives your home a score between 1-100 SAP points and divides it into bands, as below:

  • A rating = 92-100 SAP points (most efficient)
  • B rating = 81-91 SAP points
  • C rating = 69-80 SAP points
  • D rating = 55-68 SAP points
  • E rating = 39-54 SAP points
  • F rating = 21-38 SAP points
  • G rating = 1-20 SAP points (least efficient)

If your home falls into the lower brackets, there are several ways you can improve its energy efficiency. Here’s how to improve the EPC rating on your property:

  • Installing double glazing

    Upgrading your windows and doors will help keep warm air in and cold air out, improving its energy efficiency and EPC rating. It can also have the added bonus of reducing external noise.

  • Fit loft insulation

    Insulating your loft is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to make your home better at keeping heat in. Heat rises and escapes through the roof, and to combat this you should fit loft insulation that's at least 270mm thick.

  • Insulate your walls

    Although not as easy or cheap to fit as loft insulation, wall insulation is an effective way to stop heat escaping and improve your EPC rating as a result. Insulation can be fitted to both cavity and solid walls.

  • Replace your boiler

    If your boiler is over 10 years old, it may not be working as efficiently as it could be. Fitting a new, more energy-efficient boiler can help cut your energy bills and improve your EPC rating.

  • Switch to energy-efficient appliances

    Your home’s appliances have a big impact on the amount of energy you use, and replacing old washing machines, dishwashers, and fridge freezers with newer, more energy efficient models can help.

  • Change your light bulbs

    Simply switching any existing halogen or non-Low Energy Lighting (LEL) with LELs, Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) or Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) is a simple and inexpensive way to improve your EPC rating.

  • Generate your own energy

    Fitting solar panels means you have your own source of renewable energy.

How can Post Office help with my house purchase?

At Post Office, we want you to have confidence in finding the right mortgage for your circumstances, so there are no unwanted surprises. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Bank of Ireland UK to offer a new mortgage range that could work for you. Use our mortgage calculator to get an estimate of how much you could borrow.

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