Regardless of whether you’re a homeowner or living in rented accommodation, one thing that property owners and tenants from all walks of life can agree on is that a pound is better in your pocket than in someone else’s.
In the course of this knowledge hub piece we will take an indepth look at energy performance certificates, learning how they work and the impact that they can have on your energy bills. At the end of the piece we will also be sharing some tips on how you can save money on your energy bills by making your home more energy efficient, so be sure to stick around until the end!
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
Introduced in 2007, Energy Performance Certificates (also known as EPC’s) are a document that outlines and measures the energy efficiency in a property.
Properties are graded on a scale of A to G, with homes in the A category being the most energy efficient and therefore cheapest to run. Meanwhile, properties in the G grade are considered to be less energy efficient, resulting in more lost energy and higher bills.
By law, the homeowner (or housebuilder if the property is a newbuild) must have their property inspected and graded by an Domestic Energy Assessor before they are able to put the property on the market. Once the property has been graded, this information must be shared with the prospective tenant or buyer who is interested in the property.
In Scotland however, landlords and homeowners must display the EPC somewhere in the property, so that it can easily be seen by anyone viewing the property.
EPC’s are valid for 10 years and can be used to measure the energy efficiency of your home multiple times during this period. However, should you take any actions to improve the energy efficiency of your home, it’s a good idea to consider re-assessing your property as you may have had a boost to your designated grade.
How does an EPC Assessment work?
As mentioned above, to get an EPC you will need an energy assessor to pay a visit to your property.
If you’re located in England, Wales or Northern Ireland you can search for a certified Domestic Energy Assessor here. Alternatively, if your property is in Scotland you can search for an assessor via this link.
Once the assessor has entered your property they will look at a number of factors (examples below), in order to determine the homes’ energy-efficiency. Please note that the assessor will need to have access to every room and part of the property in order to successfully carry out their assessment properly.
Three of the main factors that assessors will look for include:
Windows & Insulation
One of the most common ways that homes lose heat and energy is through their windows, and as such, windows will often be one of the first places that an assessor will look at when giving your home an energy rating.
Most newer or recently refurbished homes will feature double or triple glazed windows as opposed to single glazing which has a big impact on the amount of heat lost from your property.
In addition to the windows, your assessor will also take a thorough look at the insulation of the property. Insulation in your walls, ceiling and loft (if any) work in tandem with your windows to help trap in heat and make your home more energy efficient and cheaper to run.
Of course, there is little point in having double or triple glazing throughout your property if your home is not using a modern heating system to take advantage of the technology within your windows.
During your assessor’s inspection they will look at the heating system in the property by examining the boiler, its heat and timing controls, as well as any thermostats, radiator valves, any other heating sources in the house (such as fireplaces).
Lighting is another major part of the inspection with the assessor looking at the number of fitted lights, as well as the type of light bulbs used throughout the property, to determine your property’s energy efficiency.
In order to complete their task the EPC assessor will take a series of photographs and measurements of the house as well as asking you questions about the construction of the property, when it was built and any additional work you have had done since.
What is the Price & How Long will an Assessment Take?
According to well-respected trade website checkatrade.com, prices for an EPC can range from as little as £35 to £120, so it’s a good idea to get quotes from a number of assessors before deciding which one is right for you. Please note however that as an EPC depends on numerous factors such as the size & type of your property, there isn’t a definitive figure as to how much an EPC can cost you.
Typically EPC’s assessments take only 30-45 minutes to complete as they only require a visual inspection and don’t require the assessor to drill into any walls etc.
What Happens after the Assessment?
Sometime after the assessment has been completed your assessor will be back in touch with you to provide you with the Energy Performance Certificate itself that will contain all of the information you need to ascertain the energy efficiency of your property.
The certificate is split into four sections as detailed below:
This short section will serve as an overview about the property and includes information regarding the date and type of the assessment as well as the size of the property.
As the title suggests, this section will provide you with the estimated energy costs of the property, showing how much the home should cost you to supply lighting, heating and hot water.
The Energy Efficiency Rating & Summary
In this section you’ll be able to see what energy efficiency grade the property received, as well as seeing what the potential rating could be if the property saw some improvements made.
Usually, just underneath the rating will be a section that gives you a breakdown of the energy efficiency of various parts of the property that the assessor has looked at. In this section you’ll see the energy efficiency rating for things such as your walls, windows and lights, which allows you to clearly see which areas of your property require the most upgrades and attention.
Actions and Recommendations
The final main section of an EPC will include helpful information that the assessor has suggested on how you can improve the energy efficiency of your property. In this section the assessor may include mentions to get double glazing (should you not already have this in your property), buying a new water heater or replacing your expensive lights with a more eco-friendly, energy saving solution.
How to Make your Home More Energy Efficient
So now that you’re familiar with what an EPC is, how it’s assessed, and most importantly who can get one done for your property It’s now time to take a look at some of the ways in which you can make your home more energy efficient.
Below we have given five of our top tips on how you can make your home more energy-efficient and save money on your energy bills.
Install Double Glazing
Installing double or even triple glazing within your home is a great way to keep your house warmer, reduce the impact of outside noise, save money on your energy bills and of course, make your home more energy efficient.
One of the most common ways that homes lose heat and energy is through their windows so if you’re thinking about a way to make your home more energy efficient, double or triple glazing is the way to go.
Add Insulation to your Doors
Similar to windows, doors can be another major cause of heat loss, yet unlike windows, many people often overlook the impact a great door and insulation can have on the energy efficiency of your home.
When choosing a door (especially an exterior door) it’s important to not only consider the design of the door, but its durability, functionality and energy efficiency as well.
Steel and Fibreglass doors are a good choice for an external door as they are much more energy efficient than wood, and in the case of fibreglass, many doors are crafted in a way that mimics the look and feel of a traditional wooden door, while retaining the energy benefits of fibreglass.
Once you have chosen your door(s) it’s also a good idea to consider insulating them as well. There are many insulation options available on the market, so feel free to shop around and see what works best for you. Generally speaking however, you will want to ensure that there are no gaps in and around the doorframe, so as to minimise the amount of heat loss – especially during the winter months when you’re more likely to have your heating on.
Improve wall and loft insulation
Along with door insulation, improving your wall and loft insulation is another way to ensure that heat is retained in your home rather than escaping it.
If you have bought a home that is ready to move into (or you are renting) then stripping the walls and installing insulation behind them might not be an option. However, should you have the opportunity to insulate your walls, you really should consider as this can dramatically improve the warmth of your home and its ability to retain heat.
Replace old boilers and water heaters
Up until now we have just explained how and why insulation is so important, but did you know that the age of your boiler and water heater is also just as important?
As with all appliances, boilers and water heaters are prone to breakdown overtime, yet in some cases, the age of a boiler could mean that carrying out repairs on it (and sourcing any replacement parts for example) could work out more expensive than simply replacing it with a newer model.
Boilers should be replaced every 10 to 20 years as in addition to being more expensive to operate and repair than newer boilers, older (and therefore over-used boilers) can also house dangerous emissions such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Install a smart meter
While smart meters do have their critics, one of their biggest benefits is that they act as a way to inform you of how much energy you are using at any given time.
With a smart meter you’re able to see (in real time) the exact amount of money it costs to use a particular appliance or device in your home. As a result, you can save money by avoiding certain appliances during peak times and change your behaviour on what items you leave on when not in use.