Energy Performance Certificates Explained

One often overlooked aspect of building, renting or selling a home is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It can sound like a small thing, and it's easy to forget about, especially if you have lived in your home a long time. However, it is more important than you might think to look into whether you need to get one done for your property.

What is an EPC?

The EPC provides information regarding the property’s energy use and average monthly cost of energy, as well as recommendations for ways to minimise energy use and save on costs. The EPC energy efficiency rating scale ranges from A (best, most efficient) to G (worst, least efficient).

When is an EPC needed?

While there are some exceptions (see below), an EPC is generally needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented in the UK. It is the responsibility of the owner of the property to be able to produce an EPC for prospective buyers and tenants before the property goes on the market. The A-G rating is valid for 10 years.

Landlords and letting agents are required to show prospective buyers and renters the EPC before closing any agreements about the use or purchase of the property. In Scotland, the EPC must openly be displayed on the property – near the energy meter, for example. Keep in mind that if you fail to get an EPC when required, you are liable for fines.

How can I get an EPC?

EPCs are provided by accredited assessors. For England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities and Local Government keeps a searchable online EPC register. For Scotland, a similar website is maintained by the Energy Saving Trust.

How much does an EPC cost?

The assessment, report and certificate costs £75 inc VAT if ordered with ourselves. 

What kinds of buildings do not need an EPC?

As mentioned above, there are a number of exceptions to the EPC requirement, including:

  • places of worship
  • temporarily erected buildings that are intended to be used for less than 2 years 
  • small, stand-alone buildings of which the total usable floor space is under 50 square metres 
  • buildings that are scheduled for demolition
  • residences that are not typically used more than four months a year, like holiday homes
  • industrial sites and agricultural buildings that are non-residential and have minimal energy use.

It can sometimes be tricky to tell if your building falls into an exception category. When in doubt, check with your local EPC assessor to make sure that you definitely do not need one.

If I am looking for a property, can I have access to their EPCs?

Yes! You can compare property energy performances free of charge on the same websites that provide assessor databases, listed above. You can search by address or EPC report reference number.

If energy performance is an important factor in whether or not you purchase or rent a property, this service can help you rule out certain options right away, without going through the trouble of viewing the place. Keep in mind, however, that not all properties will be listed in the register, as owners are allowed to opt out.