Page last updated 05 February 2013
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives prospective home buyers or tenants a better idea of the energy efficiency of a particular property. It also tells them how the efficiency could be improved and gives general information on the property's typical energy use and costs.
These certificates have been a legal requirement since their introduction in 2007.
You need an EPC before you can sell your home. You cannot legally put your property up for sale before obtaining a certificate from an accredited provider or through your estate agent.
You will also need one if you are looking to sell or rent your property, while new builds have to have an EPC before they can be occupied.
You can arrange an energy performance inspection through your estate agent or directly through an accredited property assessor, such as The EPC Provider. Prices can range from anywhere between £60 and £120, depending on the size of your property and your local area. Prices also vary between providers, so it's a good idea to use a price comparison website in order to find the best deal.
For properties in Scotland, homeowners still need to obtain a Home Information Pack, which includes an EPC. These can cost in excess of £600.
EPCs assign an energy efficiency rating to your property that indicates the potential cost of its energy bills and its impact on the environment. The most efficient homes will fall into the top band, receiving an A rating, while those with the highest bills and the worst energy efficiency will be classified as G.
In addition to a current rating, each property receives a potential band, according to the improvements that could be made to increase energy efficiency.
There are a number of ways to improve your band rating, making your property more attractive to potential buyers and cutting your energy bills in the process.
Insulating your hot water tank is one of the best methods to boost your rating, as this is one of the key issues looked at by an assessor. Adding additional insulation is cheap, and the potential benefits certainly outweigh the cost.
Other steps to improve your rating include installing double-glazed windows, switching to low energy light bulbs and blocking up unused fireplace flues. Removing any portable heaters from your home is also a good idea - inspectors take a particularly dim view of these, as they are one of the least efficient ways to heat a property.
EPCs are particularly important if you're looking to take part in an energy feed-in tariff, which offers cash-back to those creating their own green energy. Your property needs to achieve at least a D rating before it can be considered for the higher rate tariff. If you fall below the minimum requirements, you'll need to take action to improve your rating, or settle for lower payments for the energy that you feed back into the national grid.