What is an EPC rating?
EPC stands for Energy Performance Certificate. An EPC states the energy efficiency rating of a property, taking into account a number of factors:
- The size of the property
- The type of construction
- The property’s heating system, including the type of boiler and how it’s controlled
- How the wall and loft/roof insulation compares with current standards
- Whether the windows and doors are double glazed
- Whether there are any alternative heating or energy-efficient products in place
To get a certificate, a Domestic Energy Assessor will inspect the property and give it a rating from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient.
As well as the current rating, the certificate will also show the rating the property could potentially achieve if the necessary improvements were made.
What are the new regulations?
Since 2007, an EPC has been required every time a property is built, sold or rented. Since 2013, it’s also been a requirement for all advertisements for rental properties to clearly show the EPC rating.
In 2018 new minimum energy efficiency standards came into force, meaning that all rental properties must have an EPC rating of E or above.
Properties with a rating of F or G waste energy, which results in avoidable greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessarily high energy bills for tenants. The new regulations have been introduced to combat this.
Since 1 April 2018, landlords have been unable to let or renew a tenancy for a property rated F or G. In the case of existing tenancies, landlords must improve the property’s EPC rating to the required standard by 1 April 2020.
Are there any exceptions?
Most properties within the private rented sector are required to meet the new standards. However, there are some exceptions, including:
- Temporary buildings that will be used for less than two years
- Residential buildings intended to be used for less than four months a year
- Stand-alone buildings with a total usable floor area of less than 50 square metres
- Certain protected or listed buildings
In some circumstances the landlord may qualify for an exemption, including:
- If undertaking the necessary improvement works would devalue the property by more than 5%
- If a tenant refuses to give consent for improvement works to be carried out
In these situations, the landlord must register the exemption on the PRS Exemptions Register.
How to improve your EPC rating in five steps
If you have a rental property that isn’t up to scratch, you’ll no doubt want to know how to improve your EPC rating.
Boosting your rating will not only mean you comply with regulations – it will also make your property more attractive to tenants. The higher the rating, the lower their energy bills will be, and the less they’ll contribute to harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Here’s how to improve your EPC rating in five steps:
1. Insulate the walls
According to the Energy Saving Trust, around a third of all heat lost in an uninsulated home escapes through the walls.
Most properties built from the 1990s onwards will already have wall insulation, but if your property is older it may not.
Houses built after 1920 generally have cavity walls. Having cavity wall insulation installed should cost between £330 and £725, depending on the size of your property.
Pre-1920 properties are more likely to have solid walls. Solid walls can also be insulated, but the cost will be higher – potentially more than £10,000 for larger houses. However, the energy savings will be larger too.
2. Insulate the roof
Around a quarter of an uninsulated property’s heat escapes through the roof. The recommended thickness for roof or loft insulation is 270mm, so check the thickness and increase or install it if necessary.
A typical installation will cost between £285 and £395, although in most cases you can save money by fitting the insulation yourself. However, if the loft will be used as a living space the job won’t be quite so straightforward, so it’s advisable to have a professional installation.
3. Get a new boiler
With heating accounting for 55% of a typical home’s energy bills, a boiler can make a big difference to a property’s overall energy efficiency.
As well as being less efficient, old boilers are often expensive to maintain. A new boiler will both improve your property’s energy efficiency and save you money on maintenance, particularly in the first few years when it’s under warranty.
4. Get rid of draughts
Draught-proofing is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make your home more energy efficient.
You can have your whole property professionally draught-proofed for around £200, or you can do it yourself. Check out the Energy Saving Trust’s guidance on DIY draught-proofing.
5. Install energy efficient lighting
Replacing all lightbulbs with energy efficient LEDs is an easy way to save energy. LED bulbs are available to fit most light fittings, and are just as bright as traditional light bulbs.
Replacing all the bulbs in your property with LEDs could reduce your tenants’ electricity bill by about £35 a year.
How to improve your EPC rating
Knowing how to improve your EPC rating is vital if you want to comply with the new regulations.
If your property doesn’t meet the requirements you could face severe consequences, including a civil penalty of up to £4,000.
If you don’t then meet the standard within three months, you could be fined up to 20% of the property’s value – so it’s definitely worth making sure your property complies!