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Energy performance certificates
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An energy performance certificate (EPC) is a document that details how energy efficient a property is. The certificate ranks a property's efficiency out of 100 based on energy usage and CO2 emissions. These can be affected by various elements including the walls, heating, lighting and ventilation. This numerical score is given a ranking from A to G. In order to push their EPC score closer to an A grade, home-owners can invest in energy efficient measures such as insulation, draft excluders or better light bulbs.

Who needs an energy performance certificate?

As of 2007, all new buildings need to have an energy performance certificate. Any building being sold or rented will need one too.

There are few exceptions to this rule. Temporary buildings being used for two years or fewer don't need a certificate. Neither do places of worship, small industrial sites, holiday homes being used for fewer than four months a year or buildings set to be demolished.

Commercial buildings with a bigger area than 1,000 square metres must clearly display their EPC at all times. Landlords must be able to produce a valid EPC to tenants upon request. Those who fail to do so are breaking trading standards laws and could be subjected to a maximum fine of 200 for domestic properties or 5,000 for commercial buildings.

How to get an energy performance certificate

Building owners are advised to contact a qualified energy assessor before they put their house on the market. These professionals will be able to make an honest assessment of the property and issue a certificate complete with a unique reference number. These certificates will also include recommendations on what to do to improve an EPC rating and how high the score could potentially become.

The amount of time it takes to get hold of an EPC generally depends on the availability of assessors. They are typically busy people. All assessors qualified to provide an EPC will appear on the EPC Register. This is available to view online. Once you've got hold of the certificate, it remains valid for 10 years. However, it is worth noting that it will need to be updated if any changes are made to a property.

Things to consider

Properties with higher EPC ratings will genuinely have lower energy bills. This generally makes it worth more in the eyes of potential buyers or tenants. Many homeowners are happy to hear that their property has a low carbon footprint for ethical reasons, as well as financial ones. With all this news about the importance of reducing carbon footprints, most are happy to know they are doing their bit to help out.

The Energy Act 2011 states that in landlords will soon have to upgrade their properties to an EPC rating of 'E' or higher to be able to legally lease it. These rules will be introduced in April 2018, but the government are urging property owners to make the changes as soon as possible. It's also worth noting that properties with a rating of 'D' or higher could be eligible for feed-in tariffs.

There are plenty of reasons why its good to know a property's efficiency rating. The majority of homeowners will need an EPC sooner or later, so why not get hold of one as soon as possible?


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