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What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

6th Apr 2018 (Last updated on 19th Jun 2020) 7 minute read

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is an energy efficiency rating for your property, and is needed by law on all properties being rented or marketed for sale. These are both beneficial in ensuring that homes are meeting efficiency targets, as well as allowing home owners to identify areas of their home where they may be able to improve efficiency, save on energy bills and increase the overall comfort of their living conditions.

In recent years we have seen a continuous rise in the awareness of the environmental impact of energy efficiency, along with the fact that energy prices continue to rise. This has led to the government introducing a scheme where all domestic and commercial buildings in the UK that are available to buy or up for rent must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). 

In this guide Compare My Move provide a detailed look at EPC, including what the surveyor looks at, what the report looks like, and how the rating is calculated.

This article will cover the following:
  1. How Much Does an EPC Cost?
  2. Who Does EPC Certificates?
  3. How Long Does an EPC Survey Take?
  4. What Does an EPC Assessor Look at?
  5. How EPC Rating is Calculated
  6. How do You Read an EPC Report?
  7. Do I Need an EPC?
  8. How Do I Get an EPC?
  9. What if my EPC Report is Bad?
  10. Save on Your Survey
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How Much Does an EPC Cost?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will cost between £60 and £120 on average, depending on the location and size of your property. When you work with a professional to undertake an EPC, you will need to make sure that they are accredited to do so. You can make sure that they are accredited by searching for your Domestic Energy Assessor on the government portal.

It's essential that the assessor you work with is accredited, as it will ensure that your certificate has a legal foundation should anyone attempt to question it.

Who Does EPC Certificates?

A professionally accredited domestic energy assessor will issue your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), as it's not a task that you can carry out yourself. 

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How Long Does an EPC Survey Take?

Depending on the size of your property the survey can take anything from 20 minutes to 60 minutes to complete. It's a fairly simple assessment and quick to execute as long as the assessor has access to all the areas they need. You should receive the report within a few working days.

What Does an EPC Assessor Look at?

The assessor will first introduce themselves and ask any questions they need to about the home, as well as about the accessibility of the areas which they need to inspect. They will take note of various aspects of the property that will allow them to apply a rating and offer suggestions on how to improve them. These will include the size of the living space of your property, the overall constructions of your house, details of any insulation, lighting and the heating system and their controls.  

The assessor will go into every room in the building and check the number and type of light fittings to see if these are energy efficient. They will undertake a visual inspection of the loft (if you have one), which will tell them how much and what type of insulation you have as well what type of wall/insulation there is between your property and any adjoining ones.

They will also undertake a visual inspection of the windows, checking whether they are single, double or triple glazed, as well as whether they meet various standards. The assessment will also study the heating system, any controls it has and the overall energy efficiency of the system. They will take photos of all the aspects they study in order to keep a record of their findings.

How EPC Rating is Calculated

Once the Domestic Energy Assessor has completed their survey they will have collected the results of the various areas they have surveyed. They will then use these results to calculate an EPC score using a computer program which runs the results through the Reduced Data Standards Assessment Procedure (RDSAP), a calculation model that has been developed by the government.

The assessor will input data such as the property type, its age, type of construction, property dimension, room and water heating systems, insulation, windows and glazing types and types of lighting.

The RDSAP software is a cost-based rating system which uses a number of pre-determined assumptions. These assumptions do not make considerations for the appliances in your property such as washing machines, TV’s or dishwashers. Instead it focuses on the overall energy performance of the building itself, taking into consideration areas such as heating and lighting to provide an energy efficiency rating for the building itself, rather than an 'occupancy' rating.  

Once the information has been run through the software it will produce a rating based on a scale to show how energy efficient that property is at the time of assessment.

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How do You Read an EPC Report?

The EPC rating has been created to be easy to read and understand with a clear lettered and colour-coded scale.

The report will highlight two key areas; the ‘Energy Efficiency Rating’ and ‘Environmental Impact (CO2) Rating’. The Energy Efficiency Rating will provide a table of potential ratings which are colour-coded and graded from A (dark green) to G (dark red) with A being the most energy efficient and G being the least. It will also include the buildings current rating on that scale, along with a potential rating, which could be achieved if the recommendations made are carried out.

The Environmental Impact (CO2) Rating follows a similar system, with ratings based on colour and grades from A (light blue) to G (dark grey), with A being ‘very environmentally friendly – lower CO2 emissions’ and G being ‘Not environmentally friendly – higher CO2 emissions’. This will also include a current rating based on the assessor’s findings, along with a potential rating.

(EPC Rating England & Wales Example)

The report will also likely include more granular information on the cost and energy efficiently of the individual parts of the property that have been surveyed. It will also give recommendations on what you can do to improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.

Do I Need an EPC?

When you are buying or renting a property you should never be asked to provide or pay for an EPC report. However, if you plan on renting out a property you own, or put a property you own onto the market then you will need to get an EPC report.

There are some limited occasions where you may be exempt from providing an EPC. This includes when you are a live-in landlord and are renting out one of the rooms in your property. The other main exemption is listed buildings, which may not need an EPC as their protecting regulations limit owners to increasing insulation or installing double glazing.

You may also not need an EPC if you have one which has been completed in the last 10 years as it should still be valid. However, if you have undertaken work to improve the energy efficiency of the building, you may want to have an assessment to update the certificate following these improvements.

How Do I Get an EPC?

For rented properties, the landlord has the responsibility to arrange an EPC. If you are purchasing a house, the EPC will be provided by the property seller, whereas the developer will usually provide the EPC for a new build.

This has been required by the government by law since 2008 (2009 in Scotland) and if you fail to comply you may be subject to a penalty such as a fine of £200.

What if my EPC Report is Bad?

As we have previously explained, your certificate will provide details on the current energy efficiency of your property. This may not always be as expected and may even be concerning if the results are very low on the scale. However, you shouldn’t panic if this is the case. The rating that the assessor has given the potential energy efficiency should give a clear indicator of what you can do to increase the energy efficiency of the property.

The report will also contain top recommendations for increasing the energy efficiency of your property, along with an indicative cost and potential cost savings of undertaking these. Using this information, you should easily be able to understand how beneficial making these updates will be in comparison to how much money they will save you.

If you are planning on renting a property and the EPC you have been provided is not satisfactory, you should be able to negotiate with your letting agent or landlord to get some of the suggested work done ahead of moving into the property. For further reading, check out our guide on what to do with bad survey results.

Save on Your Survey

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We hope this guide has explained all there is to know about the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), and help you understand why it's needed. Although by law an EPC must be arranged when you're marketing a house to sell, your other property survey options may be less clear cut. Luckily, Compare My Move have got a range of guides on property surveys, so you know exactly which type you'll need. This includes the most basic level one Condition Report, the popular level two Homebuyers Survey and Valuation Survey, the detailed level three Building Survey, and the specialist Listed Building Survey.

When you're ready, remember to use Compare My Move to save on your survey costs. Just fill in a quick and easy form and get connected with up to 5 RICS accredited surveyors, to save time and money when it matters most.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Mike Ashton

Reviewed by Mike Ashton

Director at Cambridge Building Surveyors , Cambridge Building Surveyors

With over 20 years of experience in the property surveying industry, Mike Ashton is now the director at Cambridge Building Surveyors.