EPC – Energy Performance Certificates

The idea behind Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) is to give you information on how to make your home more energy efficient and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. All homes bought, sold or rented require an EPC.

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What’s in an EPC?

  • information on your home’s energy use and carbon dioxide emissions
  • a recommendation report with suggestions to reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions
Energy Efficiency rating

Energy Efficiency rating

Example of energy efficiency rating graph for homes

What’s an EPC for?

EPCs display two ratings so that you can compare the current energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions with potential figures that your home could achieve. The potential figures are calculated by estimating what the energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions would be if energy saving measures were put in place.

The rating measures the energy and carbon emission efficiency of your home using a grade from ‘A’ to ‘G’ – ‘A’ being the most efficient, and ‘G’ is the least. Currently the average efficiency across all rating carried out so far is ‘D’. All homes are measured using the same calculations and they are standardised based on the size of the home, so you can compare the energy efficiency of different properties.

As around 27 % of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions come from domestic homes, it is really important to measure this so that the government can meet its CO2 reductions targets.

You should receive an EPC when you are buying or renting a home. You’ll need to provide one if you are selling or letting your home.

An EPC is valid for ten years.

The recommendation report

There is a detailed recommendation report that accompanies the EPCs and it shows what you could do to help reduce the amount of energy you use and your carbon dioxide emissions. The report includes the following and this is the inspiration behind the Be Energy Smart Assessment:

  • suggested improvements, like fitting loft insulation
  • possible cost savings per year, if the improvements are made
  • how the recommendations would change the energy and carbon emission rating of the property

You don’t have to act on any of the recommendations in the report; however, if you decide to do so, it could make your property more attractive for sale or rent by making it more energy efficient. Not to mention the positive effect you would be having on the environment.


Over an above the recommendation report the EPC contains the following:

  • detailed estimates of potential energy use, carbon dioxide emissions and fuel costs
  • details of the person who carried out the EPC assessment
  • who to contact if you want to make a complaint

What does an EPC look like?

The critical information about energy efficiency and carbon emissions is summarised in two charts that show the respective ratings. The charts look similar to those supplied on electrical appliances, like fridges and washing machines. Have a look at an example of an Energy Performance Certificate.

There are changes that are being planning and a new style report will be release in April 2012 with the aim of encouraging people to adopt more carbon saving measures. You can read more about it in this document prepared by the Cabinet Office.

Which buildings need an EPC

Whenever a building is constructed, rented or sold an EPC is required. If a building uses energy to ‘condition an indoor climate’ and it has a roof and walls then it will need an EPC. Specifically if it has heating, air conditioning or mechanical ventilation it will need one. For example, a garden shed would not need an EPC if it doesn’t have any heating.

EPC can be issued to parts of a building if it has been designed for separate use. If a building is made up of separate units, each with its own heating system, each unit will need an EPC.

The following buildings don’t need an EPC when they are built, rented or sold:

  • temporary buildings that will be used for less than two years
  • standalone buildings with total useful floor area of less than 50 square metres that aren’t used to provide living accommodation for a single household
  • places of worship
  • industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that don’t use a lot of energy

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What is the assessment procedure?
It uses the efficiency details of the heating and hot water provision for the property and also the structure characteristics of the building including walls, floors, roof and glazing type present to rate the energy performance of you home. Therefore access to all rooms is required to log information on radiators, glazing and lighting and the loft area is checked for insulation. Sometimes photographs are taken during the assessment to support site note statements and are not released with the EPC.
Will I invalidate the EPC if I carry out changes to the property?
No, you will need to point out to perspective buyers that you have made the changes and therefore increased the energy efficiency rating to that stated. If you make significant changes you should consider getting the certificate renewed (which would require a re-visit) so that it is representative of the new energy performance of your home.
Will you need to lift floorboards?
No, only a visual inspection is required and therefore there is no need to remove or move fixtures. Access will be needed to all rooms including the loft and any cellar as well as access to the boiler, heating controls, hot-water storage and gas/electric meters.
I know I have loft insulation but it is hidden under boards?
Every reasonable effort is made to identify where insulation is installed including cavities and loft. Where no access is possible, the owner will be asked to provide an installation certificate or guarantee/warrantee as evidence if there is one avaiable.
Is it possible to advertise a property before the EPC has been produced?
There may be occasions when it is possible to offer a dwelling for rent before the EPC is available. However this should not be the norm. The landlord will be expected to have made contact with a DEA and commissioned the EPC with a view to receiving it within two weeks of the date it was commissioned.
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