Energy efficiency in your home
It is commonly thought that fitting your house with the most modern equipment will help to save you money on your energy bills. Walls can be insulated, and windows can be replaced with ones that have a better seal, or double or even triple-glazed panes. However, there’s much more to it than that! This is why the importance of an energy performance certificate cannot be emphasised enough when you are looking at potential houses to buy or rent. This will give you an indication of the energy efficiency, cost of energy bills in the property you are interested in and what you can do to improve it and what that will cost you.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) provides potential buyers and renters with a report on the energy efficiency of a property.
You will receive a certificate that will contain information about the property’s typical energy costs and recommends ways in which you can reduce your energy use to make the property more energy-efficient. This certificate was first introduced in 2007 and is now a mandatory requirement for all properties being sold or rented in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
An EPC is valid for ten years. In order to obtain one, the property must undergo a survey by a Domestic Energy Assessor, which will take between 45 minutes to an hour. The EPC turned 10 in August 2017, so people looking to sell their homes should make sure that their certificates are valid.
Since April 2018, the regulations surrounding the Energy Performance Certificate were changed. These changes affected both commercial and residential EPCs within the private rented sector and meant that the minimum energy efficiency standard for non-domestic buildings is now set at an ‘E’ EPC rating.
For many landlords, this change meant that they could no longer rent out a property with a rating of F or G, and therefore they had to face the expense of updating their property’s fittings to improve its EPC rating.
The new EPC regulations were introduced from 1st April 2018 and required all eligible properties to be improved to the new minimum standard. Although this has resulted in more regulatory hoops for landlords to jump through, once a property’s energy efficiency is improved, it becomes more attractive to tenants who are considering the costs of a less energy-efficient home.
Crucially it is now unlawful to rent a property that does not meet the minimum energy efficiency standard (unless there is an exemption) and a penalty of up to £4,000 may be imposed for breaches. This is key information as many people rent properties and should be aware of this to ensure they avoid paying the penalty!
What will an EPC tell me?
Energy Performance Certificates are designed to rate a home’s energy efficiency and environmental impact, which is measured using a scale from A-G, with ‘A’ rated homes representing the most efficient.
As mentioned, an EPC is a necessity when selling or renting a property in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The EPC needs to be available to potential buyers as soon as you put your property on the market for sale or rent.
The certificate also provides suggestions on how to improve the home’s energy rating which, in turn, helps to reduce the effects on the environment by cutting carbon emissions and save homeowners money on their utility bills. By extension, if looking to buy or rent a property, then you can use the EPCs of each home to easily compare energy efficiency.
The certificate tailors the recommendations it makes to each property by taking into account factors such as its location, age, size, and condition. It is advisable, if you carry out any of the recommended changes then you have a new EPC completed to take into consideration the improvements made.
Fun fact: the average UK property falls into the D or E band!
How much does it cost to get a certificate?
There is no fixed cost for an EPC and therefore the cost to obtain one can range from £46 – £100. So if you are on a budget it’s worth comparing prices from different companies before you settle on one to go with! Your conveyancer will need to see the EPC, and it is essential that you obtain one during the course of your conveyance.
Reducing the environmental impact of homes across the UK
UK homes already account for 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions which is contributing to global climate change.
Part of the aim of the Energy Performance Certificate is to help homeowners reduce the environmental impact of their homes, as well as saving them money on their bills.
The Energy Savings Trust estimates that if you follow the recommendations in an Energy Performance Certificate, you could be saving an average of £300 a year in fuel bills.
Five ways to improve the EPC rating for your home…
We have talked a lot about EPC’s and how they will give you recommendations on how to improve your property’s rating, which most importantly can save you money on your bills! So what things can you do to make those improvements?
- Changing your light bulbs
A super easy and effective money and energy saving hack is to change your old halogen light bulbs for new LED’s. LED’s are relatively popular these days as they are very efficient and can save you a significant amount on your energy bills. They are also a fairly quick change to make, to improve your EPC rating.
- Replacing your boiler and installing smart heating controls can improve your EPC rating and save you money
Your heating system can make a significant impact on your properties EPC rating, so it is understandable that by upgrading your boiler or your meters to smart meters can save you money whilst improving your score. The impact that this change will have on your EPC rating depends on how old your current boiler is and it’s obviously not a cheap option, but still worth investigating.
Another couple of tips in relation to your heating system is to try turning it down by 1°C to see what a difference such a small change can make. Also, make sure if you have the option to have your heating on a timer that you are making the most of this feature! Smart meters will allow you to have even more control than this and can even give you the option of controlling your heating remotely using your phone!
- Insulate the walls and the roof of your home
Insulation in both your walls and roof can be an effective way of improving your property’s heat retention. But, to make sure that it has the maximum effect you must ensure it is thick enough, the Energy Saving Trust recommends a thickness of at least 2.7cm.
It is likely to be fairly easy to install insulation in your walls if your house was built in the last 100 years, as most houses are built with a cavity in between the outer and inner wall, which is the perfect gap to fill with insulation.
- Installing double glazed windows
All of the above tips regarding heating in your home, and insulation will be pointless if you neglect the windows in your home! Changing the windows to double glazing alone will not make as big an impact as it will be combined with the above tips, but without this upgrade as well you will lose a lot of heat due to drafty windows.
- Why not try investing in renewable energy?
These improvements may require a higher initial payout, but they are sometimes funded by government schemes and can save you a lot of money in the long run.
These kinds of improvements can include; solar panels, wind turbines and ground source heat pumps. Improvements of this type can offer a great improvement in both EPC rating and on-going maintenance costs! Further, there may be an added incentive in that if you generate enough renewable energy to cover your household’s usage, you can feed any excess back into the grid and may even receive money for doing so.
If you implement all of these upgrades in your home not only will it save you money now on your bills, but if you ever come to sell your home, it will give you a better EPC rating which will help your property to sell for more and quicker.
Further, these improvements are a great idea for landlords to apply to their properties as they will attract more renters and allow you to be more competitive in the rental market as you may be able to offer a lesser fee for bills.
Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information. There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different. If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.