What are Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)?
An EPC is a certificate that rates how energy efficient a house or building is. By law, all sold, rented, or leased facilities must have an EPC, which will last for 10 years before it has to be renewed.
It will tell you roughly how expensive property will 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 generally not binding in any way. They act as an advisory note on what can be done to improve a home’s efficiency; this may make your property more attractive to potential buyers.
Particularly in the building surveys in London, surveyors recommend reading 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 increase the rating and save energy and money from gas and electricity bills.
They will tell you the average cost of the new element and 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 in need of replacement.
The Green Deal
The green deal is mentioned in an EPC and is essentially a government-subsidized loan to borrow money to improve energy efficiency.
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 Prince Surveyors building surveys London)
More expensive methods of increasing EPC banding:
- new boiler systems- more efficient boiler systems can be costly but can dramatically reduce heating bills
- New PVC windows- windows are usually 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. An extensive range of insulations can be used with cavity walls 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 refers to the localized 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 not included in an EPC. It is a good starting point for 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 is 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 encourage people to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. Many people do not see it as an essential factor when deciding to buy, rent, or lease a property.
What is the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)?
The MEES came into place on the 1st of April 2023 and at first only applied to landlords. They make it unlawful for a landlord to let out a property 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 assessed when EPCs were first introduced may drop down a band or two with a current rating, thus falling below this standard. Buy to let investors who commission out building surveys in 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 in London should take note.