The UK government has set an ambitious environmental target to achieve net-zero by 2050 or sooner. As part of its carbon-reduction strategy, the government is currently discussing new energy efficiency rules that would require all houses to have an energy rating of C or above.
These proposals would help decarbonise the housing market and reduce CO2 emissions. However, there are concerns that older properties could lose significant value as they are generally less efficient than newer houses and therefore have lower energy ratings.
What is an EPC?
An EPC (energy performance certificate) provides information on the energy efficiency of a property. A certified assessor will complete an energy efficiency survey on your property and then place your house in an energy band from A-G (A being the most efficient and G being the least).
The EPC will also give you recommendations to raise your energy efficiency rating. This may include energy-saving measures such as upgrading inefficient appliances, replacing an outdated heating system, or adding insulating materials to your walls and roof.
What is the average EPC rating?
The 2021 Energy Efficiency of Housing in England & Wales Report found that the average EPC rating in England is 66 and 64 in Wales. This places most homes in the UK in band D, although many older properties score lower and are currently rated an E or less.
What are the current rules on energy efficiency?
Since 2007, all houses in the UK are legally required to have an EPC before they can be sold, leased, or built. Currently, there is no legal requirement for homeowners to achieve a minimum EPC rating, although there are different rules in place for landlords of privately rented domestic and non-domestic properties.
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force in England and Wales in April 2018. Under these rules, landlords must have an EPC rating of E or above before they can legally start a new tenancy to new or existing tenants. If the property’s energy rating is below an E, then the landlord must complete upgrades to improve energy performance.
The government is currently discussing introducing new regulations that would require all properties (both privately owned and rented) to have an EPC of C or above. New energy efficiency rules are being introduced to reduce carbon emissions and create a greener and healthier housing market. Energy-efficient housing will also bring social benefits as it will create more affordable housing and tackle fuel poverty by slashing energy costs.
How can bad EPCs affect property value?
As mentioned above, the majority of homes in England and Wales have an EPC rating of D and most properties built before 1900 have an E rating. It is estimated that upgrading the UK’s ageing housing market could cost a combined total of £65billion. Retrofitting old properties is expensive and homeowners and landlords are expected to cover most of the cost.
People are coming under increasing pressure to make their homes more sustainable and this means that older properties are becoming less popular and thus, their value is plummeting. Many buyers are discouraged from viewing older properties due to the likelihood that they will require costly upgrades if the new energy efficiency standards come into force.
How can I improve my EPC rating?
The good news is, there are dozens of steps you can take to improve your EPC rating. If you already have an EPC, then read the document carefully to find out what recommendations and suggestions have been made.
Here are some of the most popular ways to make homes more energy-efficient:
- Install windows and doors with triple glazing.
- Add more insulation to your property.
- Invest in renewable energy e.g. solar panels.
- Upgrade inefficient household appliances.
- Replace lightbulbs with LEDs.
- Upgrade your boiler or heating system.
Governments around the world need to work together to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. The UK’s ageing housing market is contributing large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere and action must be taken to reduce housing emissions.
However, retrofitting older properties isn’t going to happen overnight and there are concerns that many homeowners will not be able to afford the energy-saving upgrades. As such, it is essential that the government continues to offer financial schemes to incentivise and support the decarbonisation of the housing market.