Did you know that by law when a home is built, sold or rented in the UK it must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)? If you’re selling your home, you must order an EPC before marketing the property.
In this epc regulations 2021 guide, our property experts will tell you everything you need to know about EPCs. What is an EPC? Which properties need one? Why are they necessary? How can you improve the EPC rating of your home? Read on to find out.
What Is an EPC?
An Energy Performance Certificate or EPC shows how energy efficient a building is on a scale of A-G. The assessor will consider heating, lighting and carbon dioxide emissions. The EPC rating gives a prospective buyer an indication of how much their energy bills are likely to be. It can also highlight areas where the property can be improved, for example, by adding insulation or solar panels to reduce energy use.
An EPC remains valid for 10 years from the date of issue.
The information in this blog focuses on the rules for selling or renting a property in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you’re selling in Scotland, you’ll need a “Home Report” which includes an EPC (known as an “energy report”).
What’s a Good EPC Rating?
Your home will be given a rating from A to G, with A being the highest, most efficient end of the scale and G being the lowest, least efficient. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient the property is and the lower your fuel bills are likely to be. The EPC also shows how much impact the building has on the environment.
You can view an example of an EPC here.
The average property in the UK falls in bands D-E for both energy efficiency and environmental impact. New build homes typically have a better EPC rating than older properties.
Under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MMES) introduced in April 2018, all privately owned properties must have an EPC rating of at least “E” before they can be legally sold or let. There are a few exceptions — for example, listed buildings — but the legislation applies to the vast majority of residential and commercial buildings. Failure to comply will result in fines ranging from £5,000 to £150,000 (the higher rate is reserved for non-domestic property owners).
What Properties Are Exempt from an EPC?
Some properties are exempt from the legal requirement to obtain an EPC, including:
- Listed buildings (where compliance with the MMES would “unacceptably alter” the character or appearance of the property)
- Buildings in conservation areas (subject to the same qualification as listed buildings)
- Some buildings scheduled for demolition
- Places of worship
- Temporary buildings (where planned use does not exceed two years)
- Stand-alone buildings (floor space must be less than 50-square metres)
- Holiday accommodation that is rented out for fewer than four months per year
- Residential buildings that are used for fewer than four months a year
- Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy consumption.
If a building already has an EPC, then it must comply with the MMES.
If you want to apply for the Green Deal finance scheme, which helps homeowners install energy-saving measures, you will need an EPC whether or not your property falls within one of the categories listed above.
Who Is Responsible for Obtaining an EPC?
The owner or landlord of a property that will be sold or rented out is responsible for obtaining an EPC. For new builds, the housebuilder must give a certificate to the developer, or whoever commissioned the property, within five days of completion.
An agent who has been hired to market a property for sale or rent must displace the EPC in all commercial marketing materials.
How Do I Get an EPC for My Property?
Check if your property has a valid EPC by searching the EPC register. This is the government’s online database of every EPC in the UK.
If you need to order a new EPC, search for an accredited domestic energy assessor on the EPC register. You can also arrange an EPC through your estate agent but this is a pricier option.
What Does a Domestic Energy Assessor Do?
An EPC usually takes a domestic energy assessor (DEA) between 45minutes and an hour to complete. During their visit, the DEA will:
- Conduct health and safety checks
- Measure and record the dimensions of the property
- Inspect room heaters, boilers, heating controls and fireplaces
- Survey any extensions made to the property
- Identify areas where heat may be lost
- Inspect loft and wall insulation
- Make a note of any low energy lighting being used
- Record the types of glazing on the windows
- Record the type of fuel used to heat the property.
The DEA will record all of this information on a property datasheet. This report will be used to determine how much it will cost to power and heat the building, as well as potential savings that could be made by improving the energy efficiency of the property.
The property owner will be sent a certificate that collates the findings — usually within two days — and the EPC will be logged with Landmark Registry and added to the online government EPC Register.
Do I Still Need an EPC during COVID-19/Lockdown?
The legal requirement to obtain an EPC before selling or letting a property is unaffected by the global pandemic. Energy assessments can continue, but they must be conducted in compliance with the most recent government guidance.
How Long Does It Take to Get an EPC?
The length of time between ordering an energy assessment and receiving an EPC will vary depending on the provider used. The process will likely take longer while the coronavirus pandemic continues, especially during periods of “lockdown”.
Generally, you can expect to wait two or three days between requesting an assessment and having a DEA visit your home. It then takes a couple of days for the certificate to be created and sent to you. Under most circumstances, the whole process can be completed within a week.
Once you have obtained an EPC, it remains valid for the property concerned for 10 years.
How Much Does an EPC Cost?
The cost of an EPC depends on the type and size of the property. There are no fixed fees, so it’s worth asking for quotes from several registered domestic energy assessors. The cost may be as little as £60 or as much as £120.
If you arrange an EPC via an estate agent, rather than booking directly with a DEA, the price will be higher.
What Are the Benefits of Getting an EPC?
Energy Performance Certificates deliver several benefits to the property owner:
- Avoid a hefty fine — it is a legal requirement to obtain an EPC before selling or renting a property.
- Find out how to improve the energy efficiency of your home — this will help you reduce energy costs and make your property more attractive to potential buyers.
- Learn how to reduce the environmental impact of your home — research has shown that 82% of homebuyers in the UK would pay more for an environmentally friendly property.
What Is the Penalty for Not Having an EPC?
If an EPC is not available for a property within 28 days of it being put on the market for sale or rental, the property must be withdrawn or the owner is in breach of the law. If this occurs, Trading Standards officers can serve a penalty notice to the owner of the property.
The fine for domestic properties is £200. For non-domestic buildings, the fine can be as high as £5,000 — the exact amount depends on the rateable value of the property.
Will I Still Need an EPC after Brexit?
The EPC was introduced by European Union (EU) law in 2007. The UK officially left the EU on 31 January 2020 and is now branching away from EU law since the transition period ended on 31 December.
However, the government has confirmed that EPCs will still be required in the UK and that the rules are unlikely to change significantly any time soon.
How to Improve the EPC Rating of Your Property
The best steps for improving your property’s EPC rating will depend on the current energy efficiency of your house and what changes are possible within the confines of the building and your budget. However, several energy efficiency improvements might be worth considering:
- Insulate your hot water tank with a hot water cylinder jacket — these are easy to install and cost as little as £20.
- Improve the insulation in your loft — whether you have no insulation or poor insulation, topping it up can boost the energy performance rating by up to five points.
- Organise your paperwork — if you lack the documentation to prove that works such as loft insulation have been completed, these may not be factored into your EPC, resulting in a lower rating than the property deserves.
- Invest in cavity wall insulation — this is not a budget option but it can deliver considerable energy bill savings and add 10 points to your rating.
- Swap traditional light bulbs for LED versions — LED bulbs are more energy-efficient and eco-friendly; this small change could make all the difference.
- Upgrade to double glazed windows and doors — reduce heat loss and noise while boosting your energy efficiency rating by at least five points.
- Replace your boiler — modern boilers are much more energy-efficient than older designs and will deliver considerable savings.
If you want a quick house sale without the hassle of making improvements to your home before putting it on the market, contact us for a free cash offer. We can complete the entire sales process remotely using photographs of your property and desk research. Need to move within a week? No problem. We can buy your house in as little as 7 days, or whatever time scale suits you.