EPCs

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A complete guide to Energy Performance Certificates, providing helpful answers to all your questions about this essential stage of the home selling process.

Introduction

Before selling your house you need to get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to show your property's energy efficiency rating to potential buyers. EPCs are legally required every time a house is built, rented or sold, and they're valid for ten years.

While getting a certificate is a legal requirement, sellers shouldn’t see this stage as a burden. EPCs are very helpful for identifying ways to make your home more energy efficient – a factor that’s very important to buyers.

Here at Housesimple, we can assist you with the EPC stage of your property sale. Not only can we provide advice and answer your questions about certificates, but we can also take care of arranging the EPC – giving you one less thing to think about.

In this guide, we'll tell you everything you need to know about EPCs, from what kind of information they contain to how to get one.

EPCs: the basics

Sellers need to provide an EPC so that potential buyers know how much they can expect to spend on lighting and heating the property. The more energy efficient the house, the more attractive it will be to buyers.

When should you arrange an EPC?

The earlier you get your EPC the better. Legally sellers must make all reasonable efforts to obtain the certificate within seven days of advertising their property for sale. The absolute deadline is 21 days.

Are there penalties for non-compliance?

Yes. The penalty payment for not obtaining an EPC within the required timeframe is £200. We recommend applying for your EPC just before putting your property on the market: that way it won’t slow down the sales process.

Does every property require an EPC?

Exemptions apply to premises that aren't used for residential purposes or are only used for a small part of the year. An exemption that might apply to you is the one for listed buildings. If you own a listed property you should contact your local authority's Conservation Officer. The reason for this exemption is that listed buildings are unable to have energy efficient changes like double glazing made, as they can alter the character of the building. Your local Conservation Officer will be able to give you advice.

How do sellers get an EPC?

The procedure starts by finding a Domestic Energy Assessor in your area and arranging for them to visit your property.

The assessment can take anywhere between 20 minutes and one hour. The assessor will examine and record details on a number of aspects of your property, including:

  • How the house was built.
  • How it’s insulated.
  • The size of the living area.
  • The kind of heating system used.
  • The number of light fittings and type of light bulbs.
  • Whether there’s double glazing.

In England and Wales you can find assessors through the Department for Local Communities and Governments, and in Northern Ireland, you should go through the Department of Finance and Personnel. In Scotland, the assessor register is managed by the Energy Saving Trust.

The EPC can cost up to £120 (although usually, they're cheaper than that) in most of the UK. In Scotland, they're included as part of the Home Report, which can cost £500 or more depending on the size of your property.

What information do EPCs contain?

EPCs include information to allow buyers to compare energy ratings between different properties, and allow sellers to make improvements to increase their home’s energy rating.

The EPC provides standard details about the property, including:

  • The dwelling type (e.g. semi-detached).
  • The date the assessment was carried out.
  • The date the certificate was issued.
  • The total floor area.

The remainder of the certificate focuses on the property’s energy efficiency, including:

  • The energy rating of the property.
  • The environmental impact of the property (in terms of carbon dioxide emissions).
  • Estimated energy costs for the household.
  • Recommendations for saving money and improving energy efficiency.

The energy rating of a property is ranked from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). If you live in a newly built house your rating is likely to be high. Older properties often score lower, usually around D or E.

Issued certificates are listed in the EPC register. Anyone can look at your EPC for free, and you can check out the energy rating of properties you're thinking about buying. However, it's also possible to opt out and keep your home unlisted.

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How can I get a better rating on my EPC?

A high EPC rating might not make or break a sale, but it's definitely something that buyers take into consideration.

There are many improvements you can make before the Domestic Energy Assessor arrives to help you boost your rating. Or you may wish to arrange an EPC, follow the recommendations included and then apply for a new EPC.

Here are some effective alterations to consider:

  • Change your lightbulbs. Swap halogen and other non‐low energy bulbs for low energy alternatives such as LED and CFL.
  • Install or improve your insulation. Your insulation should be between 250mm and 270mm deep. If not, you can easily top it up. You should also check that your cavity walls are insulated.
  • Upgrade your boiler. You can check online whether your heating system could do with being updated. A new boiler can be an expensive addition to your home, so mention it to potential buyers as a key selling point. Remember that boilers can only be installed by registered Gas Safe Engineers. You can find them using the Gas Safe Register.
  • Install new heating controls. Individual thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), room thermostats and boiler programmers can also have a positive effect. This is true even if you have an older boiler.

Conclusion

Your EPC is a small but very important part of the house selling process. It's legally required and can influence buyer decisions.

If you get a good rating on your EPC don't keep quiet about it. Mention it in your property listing and emphasise how much money an energy efficient property can save. You should highlight this again during viewings, pointing out energy efficient additions to the home such as heating controls, double glazing or a new boiler. You should also mention if you've recently topped up the loft insulation.

You need to arrange your EPC as soon as possible through your local EPC register. Alternatively, Housesimple can step in and arrange it for you, giving you more time to concentrate on preparing your house for the property market.

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