How to improve your home’s EPC rating

What is an EPC rating and why should I care?

A recent study reveals that slow broadband speeds and a lack of satellite TV are deal-breakers when it comes to hunting for a new home.

But home hunters who put connectivity before a property’s energy rating could regret their decision when demands for winter fuel bills arrive on their doormat.

sash windows and EPC

In fact, the study of 2000 adults in the UK by construction and regeneration company Keepmoat reveals that a property’s energy rating is the second least important factor for house-hunters searching for a new pad, only coming ahead of a home’s future investment potential.

However, a property’s Energy Performance Rating is now a key factor for buy-to-let landlords to consider.

The energy efficiency regulations for the private rented sector give tenants the right to request a landlord to make energy efficiency improvements to the property.

EPCAnd rules that came into force in 2018 make it illegal to let property that has an Energy Performance Certificate rating below E.

The regulations have been introduced as part of the government’s strategy to meet climate change targets and will affect both domestic and commercial private rented property.

The EPC scale ranges from A (very energy efficient) to G (poor energy efficiency). While the majority of new-build properties have an EPC rating of B or C, older houses can be upgraded to a higher rating with a few simple changes.

These include taking a close look at your home’s windows, which can account for 10-25% of a property’s fuel bill by letting heat out.

Single-glazed windows will score badly in your EPC. But even in houses in conservation areas or listed buildings, it is easier to get permission to install double glazing. However, while good quality double glazing will earn you EPC points, cheap PVCu double glazing units can devalue your home because they will not complement your home’s look. Therefore, it’s worth spending a little bit more on replacement, especially if you live in a period home that has sash windows.

Older properties with sash windows, for example, are at particular risk of suffering from a poor EPC rating, particularly if the sliding frames are suffering from rot.

Government analysis found that increasing a property’s EPC rating from D to B could add more than £16,000 to its asking price. And with property values rising in most parts of the UK since then, replacing rotting window frames with hardwood box sash windows can be a cost-effective move.

In addition to upgrading your windows, other measures homeowners can take to improve their EPC rating include…

  • Walls and wall insulation: Are cavity walls filled? Do solid walls have extra internal or external insulation on them?
  • Roofs: Is the roof flat or pitched and is there at least 270mm of insulation in the loft?
  • Heating: Is the boiler old or new? Do radiators have thermostatic radiator valves?
  • Hot water: How is water heated? What is the hot water cylinder insulation?
  • Secondary heating: Does the home have any other heating sources, such as a fireplace or wood burner?
  • Lighting: What proportion of light bulbs are energy efficient?

Whether you are selling or letting out your property, it is now a legal requirement to obtain an EPC. But by assessing your property’s energy performance before placing it on the market homeowners can enjoy the cost savings gained from making any required improvements before gaining the higher returns a good EPC rating will deliver.