Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are essential for anyone selling or renting a home – but they also make good sense for homeowners who just want to make the most of their property. Our quick guide helps you to understand what an EPC is, why you should get one and how it can help you save money and improve your home.
In this guide:
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
How can I find my property’s EPC? Is there an online EPC finder?
Finding your home’s EPC on the EPC Register
Energy Performance Certificate landlord requirements
How to get an Energy Performance Certificate
How to get an EPC rating for a home
How much is an EPC survey?
How long does it take to get an EPC certificate?
How long is an Energy Performance Certificate valid for?
How to get a free EPC certificate
How to improve an energy efficiency rating
What certificates do I need to sell my house?
Does an EPC save me money on energy?
An Energy Performance Certificate is a standardised document that shows how energy-efficient a property is. It uses standard energy ratings, running from A (which is the most efficient) to G (the least). For reference, the average UK home falls into Band D.
As well as containing the property’s current and average energy use, it also provides energy efficiency recommendations and reveals the potential ratings if these were all to be applied. The rating can also be used to give owners and potential buyers an idea of how much gas and electricity costs in the property.
When you buy or rent a property, you should be provided with a valid Energy Performance Certificate by the seller or landlord. The responsibility for obtaining (and paying for) an EPC always lies with the seller or landlord rather than with the buyer or tenant. If you’re not sure if your property has an existing EPC, you can always check the national EPC Register, which is available to search online.
The EPC Register is an online database operated by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Legislative changes mean that homeowners are no longer required to register their EPC online, but many historical records still exist, and even modern ones may be available if the property owner hasn’t opted out. You can search for existing Energy Performance Certificates using your property address, or, if you have an Energy Performance Report but can’t locate the Certificate, you can search using your Report number.
EPCs are an important document for any property, but they are a mandatory requirement for landlords. Since the introduction of the Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency, rented homes must now meet grade E on the energy efficiency scale.
If your property requires a significant number of changes to meet this standard, you can also apply for an exemption so long as you have improved your home to the best of your ability without spending more than £3,500. This total spend is the cost cap, and a property that has been updated within this budget but is still unable to meet Grade E may be granted an exemption.
If your property already has an Energy Performance Certificate, you can access it on the EPC Register for free. You can also search for neighbouring properties, which might help give you an idea of what to expect. However, if your property doesn’t already have an EPC or if it’s been more than 10 years since one has been done, you’ll have to pay for an accredited assessor to undertake a survey.
The EPC Register also has search facilities to help you find an Energy Assessor who is able and accredited to carry out an Energy Performance Check and to produce a Certificate. You may also need to arrange for these checks if the EPC you do have is close to expiring.
An EPC check needs to be undertaken by a registered domestic assessor; otherwise, it will be invalid. Find an assessor or check their credentials online at epcregister.com. This will direct you to an accredited assessor in your area so that you can arrange an appointment directly with them. The website also gives a link to the list of Approved Energy Assessor Accreditation Schemes – in case you have any questions about your assessor’s qualifications.
If you’re getting a certificate because you’re selling or renting and you’re working with a solicitor or letting agent, you’ll probably find that they can give you recommendations or have contractors that they work with regularly. It’s always worth checking prices and availability with several assessors because there’s no fixed fee for the service.
What happens during an EPC check? Once you’ve found an assessor, they’ll come to your property to perform the inspection. They’ll have to check every room of the property, looking for things like lighting, installation, heating systems and window glazing. They’ll likely take pictures and make notes of things like room sizes and ceiling heights to make an accurate assessment. You might also find they ask you questions about the history of the building and any work you might have had done. After the appointment, the assessor will complete the necessary paperwork and send you a report along with the Energy Performance Certificate. Along with your rating, this should give you recommendations on what you can do to improve your energy efficiency as well as contact details so you can ask them any follow-up questions you might have.
The price of an EPC survey varies, so it’s always worth getting a quote from several different suppliers. If you use the contractor recommended by your solicitor or letting agent, you might find that they’re able to offer a discount on the service. The price will depend on your property size and where you live. The average starting point is around £35, but this could be considerably more in a larger property – and don’t forget to factor VAT into the price.
Many assessors can offer appointments at fairly short notice, but it will, of course, depend on their availability and demand at the time. While you’ll usually be able to get appointments within a week, it’s always worth giving yourself extra time so that you don’t get caught out by not being able to provide an EPC when required.
The appointment itself typically lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your property. Many firms offer a quick turnaround on the assessment paperwork, including next-day delivery, so you don’t have to wait long to receive your report and certificate.
Once obtained, an Energy Performance Certificate remains valid for 10 years, although they can be updated more regularly if desired. It’s often worth having a new certificate produced if you’ve made any significant changes to your home since the last survey, such as upgrading the insulation. This helps you get an accurate idea of your home’s energy expenditure and helps make it more attractive to prospective buyers.
If you’re in the process of selling a house or electing an agent to manage your property, you may be able to get an EPC assessment carried out for free as part of an overall package with your conveyancer or management company. While this is a worthwhile way of getting your EPC done if these options are available, if you simply want an EPC secured for your home, the service won’t be free.
There are lots of ways to improve a property’s energy efficiency. You will get advice that’s specific to your property from your assessor, which could include things like installing underfloor heating, loft insulation or updating your double-glazing.
A good energy efficiency rating reduces your property energy costs, which makes it more attractive to potential buyers and tenants. It’s often worth spending money in the short-term to make your property more efficient in the long-term – and you’ll benefit from lower energy bills while you remain in the property too. There are plenty of smaller changes you can make, such as placing draft excluders around your door and window gaps and swapping your lightbulbs for energy-saving alternatives. You may want to invest in some energy-saving gadgets too.
Unsurprisingly, selling a house comes with a lot of paperwork. The EPC is just one of the documents you need, alongside proof of identity and title deeds, a Fittings & Contents form, a Property Information form and – if it’s a leasehold – your lease and Management Information Pack.
If you don’t have a valid EPC, you won’t be able to sell your home.
No, not in and of itself, but an EPC gives a clear view of your home’s energy wastage and how to improve on this. In this way it is like a smart meter, which lets you better understand your energy usage, though an EPC works on a larger scale to show the heating efficiency of your entire home. An EPC may also be required if you are applying for any Cold Weather Payments.
Last updated: 21 December 2020