Guide to Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)

If you’ve bought, sold, rented or let a property, you’ll most likely have come across an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Introduced in 2007, EPCs give information about the energy efficiency of a property and the potential energy-saving improvements that could be made.

Here’s what you need to know about Energy Performance Certificates.

If you’ve bought, sold, rented or let a property, you’ll most likely have come across an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Introduced in 2007, EPCs give information about the energy efficiency of a property and the potential energy-saving improvements that could be made.

Here’s what you need to know about Energy Performance Certificates.

Peter Earl
From the Energy team
6
minute read
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Posted 21 MAY 2021

What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a report that’s issued after your property has been inspected by an accredited assessor, which is valid for 10 years. The four-page EPC document contains information about the property’s typical energy costs and recommendations on how to improve its energy efficiency.

Each property is rated A to G, with A being the most energy efficient, and G the least. Typically, new or recently built homes will have a higher rating than older properties, especially those built before modern energy-saving advancements.

Why do properties need EPCs?

EPCs were introduced to help reduce the energy consumption and carbon emissions of our buildings. Under the 2018 Clean Energy Package, the EU Commission aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030.

Buildings produce around 40% of the UK’s CO2 emissions, so EPCs and their recommendations can help all of us identify where we can improve energy efficiency in our homes and do our bit to reduce the carbon footprint.

Is an EPC a legal requirement?

An EPC is a legal requirement if you intend to sell or rent out your home. In most cases, it can be arranged by your estate agent or letting agent. It can also be done directly through specialist assessors.

The certificate must then be made available to prospective buyers or tenants, free of charge. It also goes on the national EPC Register, where it can be easily accessed.

In Scotland you must display the EPC somewhere in your property, for example, near the boiler or in the meter cupboard.

If you don’t have an EPC and you need one, you could be fined up to £200.

As of 1 April 2018, all private rental properties in the UK must have an Energy Performance Certificate with a minimum rating of E. Without this, landlords won’t be allowed to rent out their properties to new tenants or renew existing rental contracts. They could also face a fine of up to £5,000.

Do all properties need to have an EPC? 

No, not all buildings need to have an EPC. Exemptions include: 

  • resident landlords who only let out a room
  • listed buildings
  • places of worship
  • holiday homes let out for less than four months of a year
  • temporary buildings that will be used for less than two years
  • standalone buildings with less than 50m² of useful floor space
  • agricultural buildings that don’t use a lot of energy
  • some buildings that are due to be demolished

How do I get an EPC? 

An EPC can only be carried out by an accredited assessor listed on the government’s official EPC register: 

If you’re using an estate agent or letting agent, they should organise this for you. 

Frequently asked questions

How long does an EPC assessment take?

It depends on the size of your property, but most assessments generally take under an hour.

Can I get an EPC online?

You can certainly book an EPC online via the EPC register, but the actual assessment needs to be done in person. The assessment only requires a visual inspection, but the assessor will need access to every room in the property, including the loft.

When do I need to get an EPC done?

If you’re selling or renting out a property, the EPC needs to be done with seven days of it being marketed. If an EPC isn’t provided within 28 days, your property must be taken off the market until the certificate is available. If your property is still being marketed after 28 days without an EPC, Trading Standards may serve you with a penalty notice.

How long is an EPC valid for?

An EPC lasts for 10 years. It can be used as many times as you need until it expires. If you’ve moved home in the last few years, you may already have a valid certificate. 

Top tip

If your current EPC is still valid and you’ve made energy efficient improvements, it’s worth getting a new one as your rating will have improved.

Where can I find an EPC?

If you can’t find the EPC for your property you can get a copy from the official EPC register.

You can also use the register to find the EPC of another property, for example, if you want to see the EPC of a house you’re considering buying. The service is free of charge - you just need the property’s postcode or EPC report reference number to access it.

You can also choose to opt out of the EPC register if you don’t want other people to see your EPC.

Do commercial properties need an EPC?

If you own a commercial property, you’ll need an EPC if: 

  • you sell or rent out your commercial premises
  • a building under construction is completed
  • you significantly alter an existing building
  • changes are made to parts of the building for separate occupation – for example, changes to heating and ventilation systems 

 

What rating do I need to rent out a property?

As a landlord you’ll need an EPC energy efficiency rating of at least E. If it’s an F or G, you won’t be able to let your property, even if you already have tenants living there.

If you’re renting out a property and the rating is below E, the law says you must carry out the recommended works shown in the report up to a cost of £3,500 plus VAT. If you fail to carry out the recommendations, you could face a fine of up to £5,000.

If the necessary improvements cost more than that, you might be able to register for an exemption.

You might also be exempt if:  

  • the work would devalue your property by 5% or more
  • the recommended work has been done, but your rating hasn’t improved
  • your mortgage lender won’t approve the recommended changes
  • it’s a listed building and the upgrades would ‘unacceptably alter’ the appearance and character of the property.  

Did you know? 

The government aims to increase the minimum EPC energy efficiency rating for privately rented properties in the UK to C by 2030.

 

 

Do I have to act on the recommendations?

Unless you’re a landlord with an EPC rating below E, you’re not legally obliged to carry out the recommendations. However, improving the energy efficiency of your property could help reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint. It might also make your property more attractive to potential tenants or buyers if you wish to rent or sell in the future.

What if I have a question about an EPC?

If you’ve any queries relating to an EPC, you can contact the assessor that carried out the report. Their details, along with the reference number for the EPC, are in the ‘About this document’ section of the report.

Do I need an EPC if I’m not selling or renting my home?

You’re under no obligation to get an EPC unless you plan to sell or rent out your home. But it’s a great way to check on your home’s energy efficiency and find out about ways to improve it. You’ll also be able to see the potential savings you could make by carrying out improvements.

If you want to make your home more energy-efficient, reduce your energy bills and cut down on CO2 emissions, then an EPC can be a really useful document and well worth the cost of getting one done.  

Other simple steps, such as switching energy suppliers, could also make a difference to monthly bills. 

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