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How to improve your EPC rating
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15 December 2020

How to improve your EPC rating

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher

Your energy performance certificate (EPC) shows how energy efficient, and environmentally friendly your home is - and how expensive your utilities bills are likely to be.

A higher energy performance rating shows buyers that they won’t have to pay huge amounts to run your home. This means that a higher EPC rating can improve the value of your home, and make it a more attractive prospect for potential buyers.

A higher EPC rating is also particularly appealing to buyers looking to buy a property to rent out. As of 1st April 2018 it became a requirement for any property newly put on the private rental market to have an energy performance rating of ‘E’. This requirement was extended to all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020.

What is an EPC rating?

EPC stands for ‘Energy Performance Certificate’. You have to get one of these if you decide to put your home up for sale, or if you want to rent your property out.

These certificates include two main charts. One shows your home's ‘energy efficiency rating’ and the other its ‘environmental impact rating’. For each of these criteria, you will be shown your home's current rating, and it's potential rating.

There will also be a list of recommendations included showing ways you can improve your home's energy efficiency. The potential rating is the estimated energy performance of your home if you make all of these changes.

An EPC certificate can only be issued once an inspection has taken place. Assessments take about 2 hours to complete, and must be carried out by an accredited official.

Once you’ve had an assessment your energy performance certificate will be valid for 10 years. But, you should consider a reassessment if you’ve made any improvements or upgrades that could have made your home more energy efficient since your last certificate was issued.

You can check here whether your home’s EPC is still valid, or get an instant quote for a new assessment:

Does my house already have an EPC?

EPCs are valid for 10 years, and you can use the one purchased by the previous owner.
So, you may have an EPC and not know it!

What is a good EPC rating?

The best energy performance rating is ‘A’, which means a property has an efficiency score of between 92-100. The closer you can get to this score, the better!

However, most properties aren’t this energy efficient. The average rating for a property in the UK is ‘D’ - meaning they have an energy rating between 55-68.

As a general rule, you should expect newer properties to have better ratings (and cheaper energy bills) than older homes. This is because minimum energy efficiency standards builders have to meet have been steadily increasing - as has the affordability of installing energy saving measures.

How to prepare for your EPC assessment

In order to get an EPC issued, an accredited assessor will have to come to your property to check out all the features that contribute to your home's energy performance. The best thing you can do to prepare for their visit is to ensure that they are able to access everything they need to as easily as possible. And, if you have any relevant information about your home's energy efficiency, it can be useful to have this ready to show to the assessor.

  • Think about access

The EPC assessor is going to need to check all your light fittings, radiators, windows, and heating controls. Make sure that they will be able to access these areas easily. This might mean rearranging some furniture, or ensuring that they can walk into spare rooms, or cellars you may not regularly use.

  • Have useful documents to hand

EPC assessments are non-invasive. For example, the assessor won’t drill holes in your walls, or look under the floorboards to check what type of insulation you have. This means that they will have to make assumptions based on the age and size of your property. However, if you can provide written proof that you’ve had certain improvements made, they will be able to factor these into your EPC rating.

Have any insulation installation receipts, window glazing certificates (eg. a FENSA), and the handbook for your boiler to hand so they are ready to be shown to the inspector.

How to improve your EPC rating

If you're keen to get the best EPC rating possible, you may decide you want to make some upgrades to your home before the inspector comes to call.

Below we list some of the top ways you can boost your property's EPC rating - and give our verdict on whether they are actually worth doing if you're planning on moving house soon.

Remember, these changes will have to provide a genuine upgrade to your home's energy efficiency in order to improve your EPC score. Simply replacing already functional insulation or double glazing won’t make a difference.

Loft Insulation

£100-£400 / 10-15 points / Worth it

  • If your roof is not insulated, you can be losing a huge 25% of your home’s heat through it. In order to counter this - and make your home more efficient - it’s recommended that you have loft insulation at least 270mm thick.

  • Loft insulation comes in a variety of materials including: fibreglass, mineral wool, cellulose, or, sheep’s wool. These are commonly bought in rolls which are easy to install by laying out between and over the joists in your attic.

  • For a roll of around 8 metres squared, you can find insulation for as little as £20. This means you can insulate a small loft space yourself for less than £100.

  • If you prefer to hire a professional, installing insulation will take about a day, and usually cost about £400.

  • If you have no previous loft insulation, installing material 270mm thick can improve your EPC rating by 10-15 points.

Wall Insulation

£500-£22,000 / 5-20 points / Consider me

  • In the same way that your home loses a lot of heat through its roof, it’s also losing heat through its walls. The reason there is such a disparity in costs is because the type of walls you have can make a huge difference to the amount of work involved.

  • Cavity wall insulation is cheaper, as it involves filling in a gap that is already there. This makes it easier and less disruptive to install. This type of insulation can improve your EPC rating by 5-10 points.

  • Insulating solid walls is more difficult and disruptive, and considerably more expensive. But the improvement to your EPC is much greater. Heat passes through solid material at a faster speed than through a gap, so solid walls lose heat more quickly than with cavity walls.

  • If you have solid walls, just insulating the external walls could be a good compromise. The insulation can be applied with minimal disruption to the household, and won’t reduce the floor area of your home.

  • You might also be able to apply for help with the costs of wall insulation. Search for grants available in your postcode on the Energy Saving Trust’s website.

Double Glazing

£2,000-£5,000 / 5-10 points / Probably not worth it

  • Older windows can be responsible for up to 30% of heat loss in your house. But, because they only cover a small surface area of your walls, installing double glazing has a smaller - though not insignificant - impact on your EPC rating than installing wall insulation.

  • Going from single glazing to double glazing could add to your EPC rating by 5-10 points, but will cost about £250 to £400 per window.

  • Simply replacing any double glazed windows will not improve your EPC rating - you need to be upgrading from single glazing.

LED light bulbs

£50-150 / 1-5 points / Consider me

  • Replacing old halogen or incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs has a fairly small impact on your EPC rating - probably adding about 1 or 2 points. But if you’re on the border, this can make the key difference really quite cheaply.

Upgrading your boiler

Varies / Up to 40 points / Consider me

  • A new boiler can increase an EPC score by as much as 40 points for about £1,000 - £3,000. So, although it is a substantial investment, if your old boiler is dragging down your score, replacing it with a newer model may be an investment worth looking into to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

Hot Water Cylinder Jacket

£20-£50 / 1-5 points / Worth it

  • If you live in a particularly old property, a more cost effective way of targeting the failings of your old boiler is to insulate your hot water tank. Some suggest that a well insulated hot water tank can be just as efficient as a combi boiler. Although it won’t increase your rating by 40 points, you’ll still get a boost from reducing the heat lost from the water tank. (And it's a much, much cheaper upgrade.)

  • The modern standard for insulation is around 50mm of factory foam or 80mm of loose jacket insulation. You might also want to consider ‘lagging’ your pipes too.

Renewable Energy

£1,500+ / 5-20 points / Probably not worth it

  • If you’ve done absolutely everything to improve your EPC score, then installing a renewable energy system is the best way to dramatically increase an EPC rating. Solar energy will make your home more efficient and more environmentally friendly too.

  • Larger solar panel electricity systems (also known as photovoltaics or PV) will have the largest impact on your EPC rating. Solar thermal systems will have a smaller effect.

  • However, if you’re looking to sell soon, the likely return on investment - not to mention the disruption caused by installation - is not worth the improvement in EPC score. This is a long term investment to make on a home you are going to keep for a number of years.

  • If you’re at the point that renewable energy is the only improvement you can make to your EPC score, it's likely you already have a very efficient household.

For more advice on preparing your home for sale check out our handy guide.

Need an EPC? You can check here whether your home’s EPC is still valid, or get an instant quote for a new assessment here.

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