What are Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)?
An EPC is a certificate which rates how energy efficient a house or building is. By law, all buildings that are sold, rented or leased must have an EPC which will last for 10 years before it has to be renewed.
It will tell you roughly how expensive a property is going to be to run in terms of heating and electricity costs. They work on a rating of A (dark green) to G (red), A being the most efficient and G being the least efficient. EPCs are not normally binding in any way. They just act as an advisory note on what can be done to improve the efficiency of a home. This may make your property more attractive to potential buyers.
In our building surveys London we recommend you read the EPC for a property before purchase to ascertain the relevant details concerning thermal efficiency/performance.
What else is included in an EPC?
An EPC will include any potential improvements that can be carried out. This will both increase the rating as well as save energy and money from gas and electricity bills.
They will tell you the average cost of the new element as well as the money that can be saved each year. This way you can see which upgrade will save you the most money for the least upfront cost.
An EPC also shows you the elements within your property and how efficient they are based on a 5-star energy rating system. This way you can see which of the elements are the least efficient and most need of replacement.
The green deal
The green deal is mentioned in an EPC and is essentially a government subsidised loan in which you can borrow money to pay for energy efficiency improvements.
Common ways of upgrading your home to a higher rating/higher thermal efficiency
There are numerous ways that you can upgrade your home to make it reach a higher rating and achieve a higher level of thermal efficiency. Some of the cheapest methods which can increase a band in an EPC are:
- using energy efficient bulbs
- loft insulation (mentioned in Prinsegate building surveys London)
More expensive methods of increasing EPC banding:
- new boiler systems- more efficient boiler systems can be expensive but can dramatically reduce heating bills
- New PVC windows- windows are normally the number 1 cause of air and heat leakage in a building, especially in older buildings where single glazed wooden framed windows are in place. Double and triple glazing are available which can dramatically cut down on heating costs.
- Insulation in the walls- this will depend on the type of wall the building has. With solid walled buildings internal and external insulation can be used. With cavity walls a large range of insulations can be used within the cavity and on the internal and external walls. It should be noted that when installing cavity wall insulation careful attention should be given to dew points and interstitial condensation.
- Microgeneration- this basically refers to the localised generation of energy for the dwelling through methods such as photovoltaic panels and wind turbines. As a general rule wind turbines tend to be less efficient than photovoltaic panels on a small scale. Photovoltaic thermal panels tend to be the most efficient, although this technology is not widely used
- Many other systems can be used such as biomass boilers and ground and air source heat pumps although these all have their benefits and negatives.
limitations of EPCs
EPCs are in no way extensive in their scope. There is so much more that can be done to improve the efficiency of a home that is not included in an EPC. It is a good starting point when it comes to efficiency although other rating systems are a lot more extensive such as the code for sustainable homes or BREAM.
The accuracy of an EPC is constrained by the ability of the person carrying out the EPCs. If an EPC assessor makes any mistakes or does not inspect the property properly the EPC will be incorrect. Assumptions can be made about a property which are wrong because it is impossible to tell what is within the building envelope. However, the quality of assessors has improved recently.
It is debatable whether EPCs actually encourage people to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. A lot of people do not see it as an important factor when deciding to buy, rent or lease a property.
What is the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)?
The MEES will come into place on the 1st of April and will at first only apply to landlords. They basically make it unlawful for a landlord to let out a property which is at the F and G ratings ( most energy inefficient). Non-compliance comes with a hefty fine of anywhere between £2,000 and £150.000.
It should also be noted that properties which were assessed when EPCs where first introduced, may drop down a band or two with a modern rating, thus falling below this standard. Buy to let investors who commission out building surveys London should take particular note as it may make certain investments unfeasible.
It should also be noted that this legislation will apply to all properties from 2023 so all of our clients who carry out building surveys London should take note.