Buying a new home is stressful and difficult and a contributing factor to this is understanding the energy rating of a home. We take the mystery out of domestic EPCs and answer some of the most common questions about this.

What is an EPC?

A domestic Energy Performance Certificate, or EPC for short, is a report relating to a particular building. It shows exactly how energy-efficient that home is with a scale ranging from A (very energy efficient) to G (very poor in terms of energy efficiency).

A professionally qualified energy assessor will personally visit your home and check various factors that affect energy efficiency. These include checking cavity and wall insulation, the energy efficiency of your windows, what type of lighting you have, ventilation, heating, and your hot water system.

The certificate will show your current energy efficiency rating. It also lists some recommendations on how to improve the energy efficiency of your home and how much you could save on energy costs each year.  

How long does an EPC last?

A domestic EPC lasts for 10 years. If you make significant changes to your property that may affect your EPC rating, such as installing a new central heating boiler or adding home insulation, you might want to have another assessment for your own information. However, you are only legally required to have one before you rent out or sell your property. The fine for non-compliance is ₤200.

How does an EPC work?

An EPC gives information about the current rating of a property and makes recommendations for how to improve it. It enables landlords and sellers to make an informed decision about what needs to be done to make their property more attractive and eco-friendly when it comes to improving energy efficiency. It also helps potential tenants and buyers to compare properties and make an informed decision before committing to a purchase or tenancy.

An EPC is also required for home owners who want to apply for a government grant or funding to improve their home’s energy efficiency. Grants may be available under the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) or the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Do all properties need an EPC?

Since 2008, all domestic properties legally require an EPC if they are to be rented out or sold. Any building that is home to a family, whether it is permanent residency or semi-permanent, is deemed to be a domestic property and therefore must have an EPC assessment carried out before it can be rented out or put on the market for sale.

There are some exceptions and these include temporary buildings (used for less than 24 months); buildings with a usable footprint of less than 50m², holiday accommodation let under license, residential buildings used for less than four months per year, listed buildings and buildings due for demolition.

Should an EPC affect your decision when renting or buying a property?

As well as being better for the environment, having a home that is energy efficient means lower fuel costs. Potential renters and buyers are likely to take the EPC rating into account when making a decision about which home they want to live in.

When it comes down to the final choice, most people would choose a property that has a better EPC rating, closer to A than G. 

How do I know if I need an EPC?

It’s simple. If you own a domestic property and plan to rent or sell it, you need to have an EPC done before you can list it. However, some home owners have an EPC evaluation to see how energy efficient their home is, and how improvements could save them money.

Although an EPC is a legal requirement before selling or letting a property, it can be used simply to find out how eco-friendly your home is and what improvements are recommended.

How much does as EPC cost?

Domestic EPCs vary in price depending on the size of the property being assessed. You can request a no obligation quote from any reputable EPC company.

Now you understand what an EPC is, you can make a more informed decision about the energy efficiency of your home and what improvements could be financially worthwhile.