Energy performance certificates (EPCs) for residential property: what are they, what do they tell the buyer or renter, and when do you need one?

What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) provides a record of the energy efficiency rating of a building.

The building is assessed on a scale from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). It also recommends improvements that could upgrade this rating, such as installing internal and external wall insulation, replacing the boiler with a more efficient model, or installing double-glazed windows. New homes are rated between A and C and older homes between E and G. The average rating is D. 

When do I need one? 

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented.

You must order an EPC for potential buyers and tenants before you market your property to sell or rent.

In Scotland, you must display the EPC somewhere in the property eg in the meter cupboard or next to the boiler.

An EPC contains:

  • information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs
  • recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money

How can I commission an EPC? 

You’ll need to find an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor  (DEA) if you’re selling or renting out your home in:

  • England, Wales and Northern Ireland   
  • Scotland   

 They’ll assess your property and produce the certificate.

The EPC Register offers a Find a Domestic Energy Assessor facility. It is worth speaking to your estate or letting agent who may be able to put you in touch with an assessor.

How long does it last?

An EPC is valid for 10 years. 

How can I view an EPC for a property?

The assessor is responsible for registering it on the EPC Register. Registered EPCs are available to view or download free of charge. You can search by property address or by the Register’s RRN Reference number. You can opt out of having your certificate being accessible to the public.

What will an EPC tell me?

This sample EPC shows you.

  • It estimates energy costs of the property over a three-year period. This is based on 1) current costs of lighting, heating and hot water, and 2) potential costs and savings over the same period if the lists of recommended improvements are made.
  • Provides an energy efficiency rating (current and potential). For example, 'E and with improvements C'.
  • Lists actions you can take to save money and improve energy efficiency, such as increasing existing loft insulation to 270 mm, installing cavity wall insulation and draught proofing.
  • Indicates the cost of these measures and typical savings made by each one.
  • Summarises the property’s energy performance-related features, such as walls, roof, floor, windows, main heating and controls, second heating, hot water and lighting. 
  • Lists key recommended measures, indicative costs; typical savings per year, Predicts a rating after improvement have been made.
  • Provides details of the carbon dioxide (CO2) rating of the building and the potential rating if improvements are made for example, a property currently producing 9.5 tonnes of CO2 a year rated as 43 with recommended improvements could reduce it by 5.5 tonnes a year to 74.

Landlords beware – minimum EPC ratings starting to be introduced 1st April 2016

As from the 1st April 2018 there will be a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to normally have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy EPC. The regulations will come into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020. It will be unlawful to rent a property which breaches the requirement for a minimum E rating, unless there is an applicable exemption. A civil penalty of up to £4,000 will be imposed for breaches. There are separate regulations effective from 1st April 2016 under which a tenant can apply for consent to carry out energy efficiency improvements in privately rented properties.

Further information

Energy Savings Trust

Buying or selling your home energy performance certificates


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