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Will Scholfield, Engineer

29 Feb : Updated 15 Mar ● 7 min read

What is an EPC? Everything you need to know

If you're looking to buy, sell or rent a property, one thing you need to know about is energy performance certificates (EPC).

As well as offering an insight into how well insulated a home is, these certificates can help us understand how much our energy bills will cost and whether additional work is needed to make the house warmer and more energy efficient.

Here, we take a comprehensive look at EPCs, including what the ratings mean, how much they cost, what they say about your property, and more. First, let's explore what an energy performance certificate is.

What is an energy performance certificate (EPC)?

An EPC tells you how energy efficient a building is, rating it from G (inefficient) to A (very efficient). The certificate tells you how much it may cost to heat your home, its carbon emissions and recommends improvements you can make to increase the rating. 

These improvements could be as straightforward as switching to low-energy light bulbs to larger jobs, like installing cavity wall insulation.

EPC ratings assess various aspects of a property, and then a score between 1 and 100 is given. The score banding is:

  • A-rating: 92-100 points
  • B-rating: 81-91 points
  • C-rating: 69-80 points
  • D-rating: 55-68 points
  • E-rating: 39-54 points
  • F-rating: 21-38 points
  • G-rating 1-20 points

How can you get an EPC, and who needs one?

You must find an accredited professional to assess your property and produce the energy report to get an EPC.

Find an energy assessor in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Find an energy assessor in Scotland.

Residential properties

In residential properties, an EPC is needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented, and the certificate must be ordered before the property goes to market. You can be fined if you don't get an EPC when you need one.

Commercial properties

If you own commercial properties, you must have an EPC if:

  • You want to rent out or sell the premises
  • A building under construction is finished
  • There are changes to the number of parts used for separate occupations, including providing or extending fixed heating, air conditioning or mechanical ventilation systems

You must also display an EPC by fixing it to your commercial building if all of the following apply:

  • The total useful floor area is over 500 square metres
  • The public frequently visits the building
  • An EPC has already been produced for the building's sale, rental or construction

You can be fined between £500 and £5,000 if you do not make an EPC available to prospective buyers or tenants.

Are any buildings exempt from having EPCs?

The following residential buildings do not need an EPC:

  • Places of worship
  • Temporary buildings that will be used for less than two years
  • Standalone buildings, like sheds and outhouses, with a total functional floor space of less than 50 square metres
  • Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that do not use a lot of energy
  • Some buildings that are due to be demolished
  • Holiday accommodation that's rented out for less than four months a year or is let under a licence to occupy
  • Listed buildings - seek advice from your council or local authority conservation officer if the work would alter the building's character
  • Residential buildings intended to be used less than four months a year

In terms of commercial properties, you do not need an EPC if you can demonstrate that the building is:

  • Listed or officially protected, and the minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter the premises.
  • A temporary building that will only be used for two years or less.
  • Used as a place of worship or for other religious activities.
  • An industrial site, workshop or non-residential agricultural building that uses little energy.
  • A detached building with a total floor space of under 50 square metres.
  • Due to be demolished by the seller or landlord, and they have all the relevant planning and conservation consents.

How much are EPC certificates?

The cost of having your house assessed and receiving an EPC varies from £35 to £120. The specific price will depend on several factors, like the size of the property, its location, and who will be conducting the assessment.

Similarly, an EPC for a commercial property can cost upwards of £95. Again, the cost will vary based on details like the floor space of the premises.

Whether you're after a commercial or residential EPC, we recommend shopping around for the best deal.

What do EPC inspections look at?

Most EPC inspections take around an hour, and during this time, accredited domestic energy assessors will consider lots of factors before deciding on an energy rating. These include:

  • The overall size of the property
  • The lighting used and how many low-energy light bulbs are fitted in your home
  • The type and amount of insulation used throughout the building
  • The heating systems located in the property, including fireplaces
  • The type of windows used throughout the house, e.g. single or double glazing

What does an EPC certificate say about your property?

As well as a score out of 100, the EPC will feature recommendations to improve the home's energy efficiency rating and a potential rating that could be achieved if the assessor's advice is acted upon.

This approach informs the current and prospective property owners of what they can do to increase the home's energy performance.

What are the minimum energy efficiency standards?

The minimum energy efficiency standard was introduced on 1 April 2018. It was implemented to encourage landlords to raise low energy efficiency levels in their properties.

These energy efficiency requirements stipulate that privately rented properties must be at least E-rated to be rented out (this is changing to a minimum of C-rated from 2025). To bring the property up to this level, a landlord can spend £3,500, but if the property cannot be improved without spending more than this, they may be able to apply for an exemption.

Can you fail an EPC inspection?

A property cannot 'fail' an EPC assessment but can be awarded a G rating, which is the lowest possible. This score highlights that a property is extremely inefficient, and serious work needs to be done to achieve an E-rating under the minimum energy efficiency standards.

What is the EPC register?

When you receive an EPC rating, it will be valid for ten years. These energy reports are kept on the EPC register, allowing homeowners to find someone who produces energy reports and organises a review of their home.

Can you opt out of the EPC register?

Yes, you can! If you don't want your property's Energy Performance Certificate to be accessible to other people through the EPC register, you can opt out by contacting the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities by email at [email protected] or find more information here.

What are the benefits of improving your home's EPC rating?

Whether you want to sell your home or you've just moved in, improving your home's EPC rating in line with the recommendations left by the assessor can have several benefits.

Firstly, reducing your home's energy consumption, i.e., installing loft insulation and retaining heat, can help you save money on your energy bills as you'll be less reliant on your central heating.

If you're considering selling your home, upgrading your home's rating can increase your property's value and make it more attractive to potential buyers. In fact, a 2013 report by the Department of Energy and Climate Change into the effect of EPC ratings found those in the A or B bracket sold for at least 14% more than their counterparts.

As well as helping your wallet, improving your home's EPC rating will reduce your carbon footprint, which benefits the planet, too.

How can you improve your home's EPC rating?

There are many ways to improve your EPC rating, and you'll be pleased to hear that you won't have to spend thousands making upgrades. According to the Energy Saving Trust, switching to LED light bulbs, for example, may cost £180 but could save you up to £60 per year. Likewise, investing in a hot water cylinder jacket costs around £20 but could save you around £50 every year.

Other common EPC recommendations also include:

  • Installing smart controls to manage your central heating system
  • Replacing older heating systems with new boilers
  • Upgrading single-glazed windows to double glazing
  • Installing or replacing loft insulation
  • Insulating floors and walls
  • Installing solar panels

Check out our guide to explore more ways to improve your home’s EPC rating.

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