An EPC is short for an Energy Performance Certificate
, a report that assesses the energy efficiency of a property. The report considers things like how well insulated the property is and it will tell you how much your bills might cost. It also recommends improvements to save you money
An energy performance certificate is a really useful tool, whether you’re buying, selling or renting a property.
How do I find out the EPC rating?
If you’re looking to buy a property, an EPC will often be attached to the listing as one of the images. You can see that this is a colourful image with a range of colours and letters, from A-G. Make sure that it's up to date – they only last for 10 years.
If the EPC isn’t attached, or you think it’s an old one, you can chat directly to the estate agent or seller, or more easily you can go to the EPC register
to search by address.
What can an EPC tell me?
An EPC will give an energy efficiency rating
and an environmental impact rating
. It will also estimate the energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, lighting, heating and hot water per year, along with the potential annual costs for each. This is hugely helpful if you're looking for a new home and want to make sure you're not facing huge bills because it's poorly insulated.
The report will also offer measures for improving the energy efficiency rating and tell you how much these will cost to install, and how much they will save you per year. You may be able to use this as a negotiating point if you are considering buying the property.
You can easily gauge how energy efficient the property is by the colour and grading. Some properties may have the potential to be much more energy efficient, with only small changes like replacing the light bulbs with energy efficient ones. Bigger changes, like installing solar panels, may be costly or unwanted.
There is no obligation to make the changes, they are there to guide you. (Unless you are a landlord and your property is below an ‘E’ rating - then legally you need to improve for the sake of your tenants).
Other properties may be as efficient as possible for the type of building. For example, old stone cottages may struggle to be energy efficient due to the materials they were built with.
What do the EPC ratings mean?
Energy Performance Certificates are rated from A-G, with ‘A’ being the most energy efficient, and ‘G’ being the least. The certificate will show what the current rating is and which letter category it falls into. The best thing about the report is that it also shows the potential rating.
This means the report assesses how energy efficient the property could be if the changes the EPC recommends were made. The more energy efficient a property is, the lower the energy bills are likely to be.
A report with a high energy efficiency rating is likely to be well insulated, with double glazed windows, a covered boiler and may be a great investment long term.
How can I use an EPC?
For buyers, an EPC is a great point of information when considering a property. It can tell you how much you’ll be likely to pay in bills, and what changes you can make to the property in the future to lower them even further. It’s important to be practical when it comes to using the reports – they’re a great way of showing the efficiency of a property, but they have to be taken in context. If you’re planning on buying a stone cottage by the seaside, it’s likely all properties of that type will have low ratings.
It’s easy to ignore an EPC but knowing what your bills are likely to be, and how you can improve the property is a great asset. Having more information about the insulation, whether the windows are double glazed and how you can reduce your bills is always useful.
How do I use an EPC as a seller?
An up to date EPC is a legal requirement for anyone selling a property. They expire every 10 years, so be sure to check whether or not you need to update it before you put your property on the market. It’s very easy to find a Domestic Energy Assessor to do your EPC
– we even have a handy place on our site where you can find one!
Your EPC will be attached to your property listing when it is put on the market. However, you can use it to your advantage to improve your property and make it more appealing to a buyer. Make the changes, like replacing your boiler cover, improving insulation thickness or changing lightbulbs to energy efficient ones, and then get your EPC again with a new rating. It's possible this could be a real selling point for a future buyer.
EPCs for Landlords
Legally, landlords must have an up to date EPC when renting out a property or starting a new tenancy. EPCs run out after 10 years and must be updated. There are now minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES)
to take into consideration. A property you rent out cannot be below an ‘E’ rating. You can read more in our article on EPCS for landlords
When don’t I need an EPC?
Certain properties don’t require an EPC. Listed buildings, temporary buildings and those due to be demolished are just some of the reasons a property would be EPC-exempt. We have a fuller list of EPC exemptions
if you believe you do not require an EPC for your property, or are concerned about buying a property without one.
If you're wondering how much an EPC will cost
you can compare through reallymoving.
Whether you're a buyer using the report to find a really energy efficient property, or you're a buyer looking to make improvements before you sell, an Energy Performance Certificate can be a hugely helpful tool when it comes to buying or selling a home.
Article updated September 2023 by Andi Forsythe