What is an EPC rating, and why is it so important?

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When you’re in the market for a new home, you probably have a wish list. A certain number of bedrooms, outdoor space, a gourmet kitchen, room to expand or renovate, proximity to shops and public transport. Having a wish list makes it easier to narrow down a list of potential properties, and also to make sure you get as close to the home of your dreams as possible.


However, as energy prices continue to rise to the point where the city of Birmingham, along with other towns and cities across the country, are putting together a list of ‘warm banks’ where people who are struggling to heat their homes can go to keep warm during the day, there’s another item you might need to add to your wish list. An EPC rating of C or above.


So, what exactly is an EPC rating?


An EPC, or energy performance certificate, is required every time a home is built, sold or rented. It contains information about the property’s energy use and typical energy costs, as well as recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money, something that is particularly pertinent at the moment. An EPC also gives the property a rating between A, which is the most energy-efficient, and G, which is the least efficient, and is valid for ten years. In Birmingham, it’s estimated that only 37% of the resale market has an EPC rating of C or above, so be sure to do your homework before making a commitment to a new property.


How can I find an EPC rating?


If you’re selling or renting a property, you need to order an EPC to provide to potential buyers or tenants before you start marketing the property. This is done by contacting an accredited assessor, who will assess your property and provide a certificate. You must then provide this certificate to the buyer or tenant, and you can be fined if you fail to do so.


If you’re not looking to move at the moment, you can still check out your EPC rating online via this link https://www.gov.uk/find-energy-certificate – it’s a useful tool to not only find out your own rating, but also compare it to other properties in your area. There is also an option to opt out of being on the list, if you’d rather keep it to yourself!

There are, however, some buildings which do not require an EPC certificate, so you’ll need to perform your own due diligence when purchasing a property in the following categories: 

  • places of worship
  • temporary buildings in use for fewer than 2 years
  • stand-alone buildings with total useful floor space of less than 50 square metres
  • industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that don’t use a lot of energy
  • some buildings that are due to be demolished
  • holiday accommodation rented out for less than 4 months a year, or let under a licence to occupy
  • listed buildings – you should get advice from your local authority conservation officer if any proposed work would alter the building’s character
  • residential buildings intended to be used for fewer than 4 months a year

So, how can I improve my home’s existing EPC rating?


Improving your EPC rating can not only make your property more saleable, it can also save you money. While we’ve covered energy saving tips before, (links), here are some steps you can take to improve your rating:


  • Install a more efficient/newer boiler
  • Insulate your hot water cylinder, if you have one
  • Insulate your loft – this is one of the easiest ways to improve your rating
  • Install double- or triple-glazed windows and doors
  • Seal open chimneys which aren’t in use
  • Insulate cavity walls
  • Draught-proof doors and windows
  • Install energy-efficient lighting
  • Invest in solar panels
  • Insulate solid walls – this can be very expensive, though, as insulation needs to be added as an inner or outer layer throughout your property.


And there you have it. As the so-called price cap continues to rise, and people everywhere are squeezed to the point where they may have to decide between heating and eating, an EPC certificate is a small yet powerful asset in the search for energy efficient properties. So, when you’re putting together a property wish list, remember to check the EPC rating, and make sure your dream home doesn’t become an energy-sucking nightmare instead.


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