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EPC rating: what is it?
With energy bills and general living costs rising through the roof, households across the UK are looking for ways to budget better and reduce unnecessary costs. One of these solutions is to make sure your home appliances are energy efficient, and with good EPC ratings.
Every residential property in the UK that has been bought, sold or rented since May 2010 has been given an Energy Performance Certificate or EPC. An EPC is a letter grade given to properties based on how energy-efficient they are, going from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). Once carried out an EPC is valid for 10 years.
How is my EPC calculated?
Your EPC is based on a number of factors including the amount of energy the property uses per m² and the level of carbon dioxide emitted in a year, which is affected by things like the property’s lighting, insulation and heating. These factors are converted into a score called SAP points by assessors, and your EPC is based on your score out of 100.
How can tenants improve their EPC ratings?
Most advice on how to improve the EPC of a property is directed towards the property owner, but as energy bills rise tenants and renters are increasingly interested in how they can make their home’s more efficient to save energy. Unfortunately, as a property’s EPC is based on permanent, structural factors there is very little you can do to change it without the permission and cooperation of the property owner.
If you can though, it is worth talking to your landlord about the following property changes. Although some may be inconvenient or expensive up front, they will save you as tenant money on your bills and make the property more appealing for future tenants.
Ways to improve your EPC ratings
- Installing double-glazed windows
- Fitting Insulation in cavity walls and lofts
- Switching older boilers for newer, more efficient models
- Upgrading lightbulbs to energy-efficient LEDs
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Did You Know?
From April 2020 all rental properties must have an EPC of grade ‘E’ or above. In 2025 this will go up to a grade ‘C’ or above, so property owners are running out of time to make improvements.
What are some problems with EPC ratings?
As you can probably tell from the list above, most of the changes that can improve the EPC of a property cannot be carried out without the permission and support of the property owner. Many of these changes also increase the value of the property, leading to debate over who should be responsible for the upgrades if they are requested by the tenant but stand to benefit the landlord in the long term.
The EPC rating system is also a ‘one-size-fits-all’ method of evaluating properties with the same points system applied to everyone regardless of the situation. Property owners have reported being told to fit cavity wall insulation in historically listed stone houses with solid walls for example, and so the advice offered on how to improve a property’s rating can’t always be followed.
What else can I do to reduce my energy bills?
If you are a tenant, you might find yourself limited in the amount you can do to improve the EPC of the property you live in.
If you cannot make any permanent changes to your property that might improve your EPC, there are still steps you can take to reduce your energy usage and bills.
While not as effective as replacing windows with double glazing, fitting plastic insulation sheets over your windows in winter will have a similar heat-trapping effect, reducing heat lost outdoors.
You can also make sure that the appliances you buy for the property are as efficient as possible. In 2021 the government adjusted their efficiency ratings for appliances, where before 90% of appliances scored an A++ there is now a wider range of scores on display from A to G. While not the same as your EPC, opting for better scoring devices when you’re upgrading your appliances will save you energy and money in the long run.