Tuesday 23 August 2022

What does an EPC assessor look at?

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If you’re thinking of buying a home, it’s likely you’ve seen Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) included with the details of the properties you’re looking at. And if you’re selling or renting out a house, you’ve probably been told you need to get an EPC certificate. But although you may have seen or heard of this document, you may not be aware of what it’s for or how it’s created.

So, let’s explore the basics of EPC certificates and what an assessor looks at to produce one.


Why get an EPC certificate? 

Homes that are being sold, rented out or built, need an EPC certificate. It tells you, and the buyers or tenants, the energy efficiency of your house. Not only that, it can affect the rentability and value too. And if you’re renting out a property then it must score a rating of E or above, otherwise it can’t be rented out. So, it’s an important document to have. Especially if you’ve taken time, money and effort to upgrade the heating systems and insulation in your home. 

The cost of an EPC is anything between £15 and £120. Which may seem a lot for a simple certificate. But of course, there’s more to it than that. For starters, you’ll need an inspection carried out by an accredited EPC assessor. But what exactly does an EPC assessor look at?  

The type of property you have 

An EPC certificate calculates a property’s energy performance, its environmental impact and the improvements it’s possible to make. To do this accurately, the assessor will look at the type of property it is. This includes the materials used to construct it and how much floor space there is. So, the walls, windows, floors and roof are all taken into consideration. 

The heating system you use 

The heating system your home uses is also looked at by the assessor. This includes heating controls such as thermostats and the fuel it’s powered by, such as gas or electricity. And any secondary heating systems such as stoves and space heaters.  

There will also be details on how hot water is produced, such as by a cylinder or a boiler. Each element will receive a rating between very poor and very good. And all of these details feed back into the overall energy efficiency rating. 

What energy efficiency measures are in place 

Next the assessor will look at the energy efficiency measures the property has in place. This includes elements such as double glazing and wall and floor insulation. The lighting in your home is also looked at, but only the fixed installations. So, plug-in lamps aren’t counted. Low energy lighting options rate highly, but if one or two lighting points aren’t performing well it can bring your overall rating down. The certificate will include the percentage of energy efficient lights throughout the whole property. 

Improvements to consider making 

Finally, the assessor will include a number of improvements that are possible to make to your particular home. So, for example, it will suggest internal or external wall insulation for solid walled homes rather than cavity insulation. This gives you and any potential buyers a realistic estimate of the top rating a home can achieve once improvements are made. This may mean a home can’t score the top A rating, but it’s not all bad news. It does give you options for cost-effective energy improvements and the expected savings you could make in terms of energy use and CO2 emissions.  

Things to be aware of 

Now you know what an EPC assessor looks at when they’re conducting an inspection. And how that produces a certificate with an energy efficiency rating. But there are some other things you should be aware of. The first thing to note is that this certificate only lasts for ten years, then it expires. And Scotland’s certificate rules are a little bit different. Most importantly, the EPC must be displayed somewhere in the house. Next to the boiler is a common place to put it, so it’s not in full view but easy to find. And listed buildings may not need an EPC, as there are restrictions on the changes you can make. 

Although EPCs give you an idea of how much your property costs to heat and light, it can’t look at your lifestyle. So, if you’d rather turn the heating on than wear a jumper, or don’t use the thermostat effectively, it won’t pick up on those problems. Therefore, it can’t make energy cost calculations or suggestions for improvements based on personal habits. So, if you’re buying or renting a home based on a high efficiency rating, don’t assume your energy bills are going to be low.


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