Why an EPC can cut your home’s fuel bills


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Davis Miller is a regular contributor at many sites and mainly focuses on business and investment related topics.

The answers to all the questions you have about Energy Performance Certificates but never got round to asking

A hangover from legislation introduced when the average price of a home in the UK reached a peak of £181,014 is still giving everybody involved in the buying, selling, letting or renting of property a head start when it comes to making Britain’s housing stock energy efficient.

Estate agents say Energy Performance Certificates are a useful tool when it comes to marketing a property.

Robert Holmes & Co, an estate agent based in Wimbledon Village – where detached houses can fetch up to £17.5m – says the majority of buyers and tenants want a property that is energy efficient because such houses will be less expensive to keep warm.

But since Energy Performance Certificates were introduced in England and Wales as part of Home Information Packs for domestic properties with four or more bedrooms on 1 August 2007, they have become more widespread.

It became a legal requirement for vendors and landlords to provide an Energy Performance Certificate free of charge to prospective buyers or tenants at the start of 2013, points out Brixton and Battersea estate agent Eden Harper.

A copy of the EPC must also be handed over to the eventual buyers or tenants, although only a handful of tenants request their rental property’s energy performance statistics.

What is an EPC?

An EPC is the first step property owners should take if they want to be eco-friendly and save hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills. It is a five-page document that

·Uses a scale of A to G to rate a property’s current energy efficiency and carbon footprint

·Provides recommendations about how to achieve a higher rating

·Estimates a property’s energy use, carbon dioxide emissions and fuel costs if the recommendations are put in place

·Puts forward additional ideas to help bill payers save money and reduce the impact of the property on the environment

What’s checked during an EPC site visit?

It takes around 30 minutes to carry out an internal and external inspection of a domestic property, says Lawsons & Daughters, an estate agent in Hammersmith.

During that time a qualified assessor will inspect or measure the property’s exterior walls, roof insulation, floor, windows, open fireplaces, boiler, lighting, heating system and controls, hot water cylinder insulation, ventilation system and conservatory or other extensions.

The results of your EPC assessment will be entered on a national database that if free to access. However, homeowners can opt out of the EPC Register if they wish to.

While homeowners can recoup many of the costs of improving their property’s EPC rating through its rise in value and lower fuel bills, failure to obtain an EPC could land you with a fine of up to £500.

That is the maximum penalty for failure to display a valid EPC in commercial buildings that are frequently visited by the public and have floor area of more than 500 sq m. However, if you fail to include the energy performance rating of the property in sale or lease particulars, a £200 penalty could be imposed.

And from April 2018 it will be unlawful to grant new residential or commercial leases unless the property has a minimum EPC rating of E. This ruling will apply to all new and existing residential lettings from April 2020 and extended to commercial lettings in April 2023.

The vast majority of properties in the UK do not require any improvement to achieve an EPC rating of E.

The ratings are based on the number of Standard Assessment Procedure points a property scores during the EPC inspection.

For a property to achieve an A rating, it needs 92-100 SAP points. Homes with a B rating have 81-91 SAP points, C-rated homes have 69-80 SAP points, while E-rated homes need to score only 39-54 SAP points.

Extra SAP points are earned by making energy-efficient improvements. Fitting a modern condensing boiler, for example, will earn a property 47 SAP points and elevate it into the E-rating band immediately.

However, other forms of energy-efficient improvements do not carry as much weight when it comes to a property’s EPC rating. Installing double glazing is worth only 4 SAP points, upgrading roof insulation earns 10 SAP points, while cavity wall insulation adds 13 to a home’s SAP points total.

However, You Choose Windows, a supplier of replacement Crittall and sash windows for older properties, says windows and doors are responsible for 20% of a property’s heat loss.

While an EPC is a first step to making your home energy efficient, a property with an A rating will not always be the cheapest to run.

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