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Energy Performance Certificates for homes

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives home owners, tenants and buyers information on the energy efficiency of their property. It gives the building a standard energy and carbon emission efficiency grade from ‘A’ to ‘G’, where ‘A’ is the best and with the average to date being D/E.

  Example of energy efficiency rating graph for homes

What else does the certificate do?

EPCs are measured using the same calculations for all homes, so you can compare the energy efficiency of different properties.

Part of the EPC is a recommendation report which will list the potential rating that your home could achieve, if you made changes. The report lists improvements that you could carry out and how this would change the energy and carbon emission rating of the property.

You can use this information to:

  • cut your fuel bills
  • improve energy performance in your home
  • help cut carbon emissions

Does everyone need an EPC?

The EPC is required by law when a building is constructed, sold or put up for rent.
So you will only need a certificate if you are:

  • a homeowner – all sellers of homes need to ensure that they provide a Home Information Pack which includes an EPC for potential buyers
  • a builder – an EPC needs to be provided to buyers of newly built properties from 6 April 2008
  • a landlord – you will need to provide an EPC which will be valid for ten years, to prospective tenants, the first time you let or re-let your property after 1 October 2008
  • Even if you do not fall into the above category, you can still apply for and receive an EPC.

How do you get an EPC?

EPCs can only be produced as a result of a survey by an ‘accredited’ Domestic Energy Assessor. They are used to collect standard information on the property including its size, how it is constructed and its hot water and heating systems. The information is then fed into a government approved software programme which produces the EPC.

How much will it cost?

The price of an EPC is set by the accredited organisations which issue them.

How long will it take to get one?

Obtaining an EPC for an average sized home is likely to take the same time as that for a house valuation report which has to be prepared when a property is put up for sale. The exact time will vary from property to property.

How long Does the EPC last for?

The EPC is valid for a period of 10 years unless you make alterations to the building that will affect the energy consumption e.g. replacing the boiler, fitting double glazing, etc.

What an Energy Performance Certificate looks like and contains

The certificate provides a rating for the building, showing its energy efficiency. The ratings are similar to those found on products such as fridges and are standard so the energy efficiency of one building can easily be compared with another building of a similar type.

For homes, two ratings are shown:

  1. The energy-efficiency rating is a measure of a home's overall efficiency. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient     the home is, and the lower the fuel bills are likely to be.
  2. The environmental impact rating is a measure of a home's impact on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - the higher the rating, the less impact it has on the environment.

Each rating is based on the performance of the building itself and its services (such as heating and lighting), rather than the domestic appliances within it. This is known as an asset rating. The certificate also lists the potential rating of the building if all the cost-effective measures were installed.

The ratings will vary according to the age, location, size and condition of the building. The potential rating on the certificate will take these factors into account, and the suggested measures will be tailored so that they are realistic for the particular building.

The certificate also includes a recommendation report, providing information about ways to improve the energy performance of the property. Recommendations include cost effective improvements and further improvements (that achieve higher standards but are not necessarily cost effective). For each improvement the level of cost, typical cost savings per year and the performance rating after improvement are listed. The potential rating shown on the certificate is based on all the cost effective recommendations being implemented.

In addition the EPCs must convey several other key pieces of information:

  • Reference information
    This includes the type of property (e.g. house, flat), the unique reference number (as stored in the central register) and date of the certificate.
  • Estimated energy use
    This is based on standardised assumptions about occupancy and heating patterns. An estimate of the current and potential energy use, carbon emissions and fuel costs for lighting, heating and hot water is provided. The actual energy use depends on the behaviour of the occupants.
  • Energy Assessor details
    This includes the assessor's name, accreditation number, company name (or trading name if self employed) and contact details.
  • Complaints
    The certificate will provide information about how to complain or how to check the certificate is authentic.
  • Energy advice
    The certificate provides basic advice about energy efficient behaviour
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