An EPC rating can tell you how efficient (or inefficient) your home is, but if your property gets a poor rating, is there anything you can do to improve it? Increasing your home’s rating could make your house more desirable to potential buyers if you wish to sell it, and it can also save energy and money.

What is an EPC?

When you wish to sell your home, you are required (by law) to have a valid energy performance certificate (EPC). The certificates are valid for 10 years and they show a potential buyer how much it would cost to heat/power the property, how efficient the property is, what features it might have (cavity wall insulation, solar panels, etc) and what can be done to improve its efficiency.

In order to be granted a certificate, a surveyor will come to your property and assess it, looking at its size, how many windows it has, the amount of insulation there is and the type of heating system you have. Once this work has been completed, you will be provided with a certificate that gives your home an energy rating between A (very efficient) and G (poor efficiency).

When the certificate runs out, you don’t need to renew it unless you plan to sell your home. However, should you make significant improvements to your home, such as fitting new insulation, you may wish to have the certificate renewed so you can see how such changes have impacted your home’s efficiency rating.

How to get a good EPC rating

If you want to make your home more efficient, whether to save money on your bills or do your bit for the environment, you can find out more below about how to get a good EPC rating.

Improve your home’s insulation

Heating a property accounts for the largest percentage of energy use in our homes ‒ running a gas boiler uses more energy than drying clothes in the tumble dryer, cooking our food and running a bath. But all this heat slowly dissipates through the windows, doors, floors, walls and roof.

One of the best ways, therefore, to make your home more efficient and increase its EPC rating is to improve the insulation. Good insulation can help to decrease heat loss as it traps the warmth in your home for longer.

If your home currently has poor insulation, you could look to increase the loft insulation to 270 mm, see if your home has cavity wall insulation and have it installed if it doesn’t and improve the floor insulation. Each of these things could make a significant difference to your home’s EPC rating. 

Install solar panels (Photovoltaic)

Solar panels are one of the most effective ways of generating your own electricity and, although the panels require a potentially significant investment to install, it’s a wonderful way of producing renewable energy for free. The more electricity your solar panels produce, the less electricity you require from the National Grid. Therefore, not only could you see a reduction in your energy bills, but your home’s carbon footprint will decrease too. 

Switch to LED bulbs

Halogen and incandescent light bulbs were the standard lighting options for years, until energy efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) came along. Making the switch to LEDs is potentially one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest changes you can make at home to improve efficiency. You can either do this slowly as each old bulb blows, or replace them all at once.

While this won’t increase your EPC by a lot, it could make a difference when you make some of the other changes suggested in this guide as well. 

Install a solar thermal system

Solar thermal is different from solar PV panels. Whereas PV panels use sunlight to generate electricity, thermal panels use the sun’s natural warmth to heat cold water. The panels contain a series of pipes that are full of fluid. The sun heats the fluid, which can be transferred around the sealed circuit to warm the cold water, which is stored in a tank in the loft of a house. While this system may not be able to deliver all of your hot water needs without assistance from another heating appliance, such as a gas boiler, it can help to improve the efficiency of your home and reduce your energy bills. 

Does your boiler affect an EPC?

Having an old or inefficient boiler could bring your EPC rating down slightly. This is because older systems tend to use more gas in order to bring your home up to temperature. Sometimes, this is down to wear and tear, age or even limescale and other debris that has built up in the appliance over time.

Therefore, installing a new gas boiler may improve your home’s EPC rating. This will especially be the case when your existing boiler is more than 10 years old. 

What is the EPC rating of an air source heat pump?

An air source heat pump doesn’t have an EPC rating of its own as such, but having one could impact your home’s overall rating. This shouldn’t be confused with an energy performance label which is a measure of a product's efficiency.

Will your EPC rating improve with a heat pump?

You’d think that, as EPCs are based on home efficiency, having a highly efficient appliance such as a heat pump would improve your score. There has, however, been some debate on this topic as EPCs still encourage gas boilers to be installed, and actually a heat pump can decrease your EPC rating.

This generally happens for two reasons.

  1. An EPC rating is partially based on how much it costs to heat a property. Electricity is more expensive per kWh than gas, which can create a disproportionate result in the survey by making your energy costs look higher.
  2. EPCs can make heat pumps out to be less efficient than they actually are, based on whether or not they have a listed rating on the product characteristics database (PCDB).

You shouldn’t let this put you off having a heat pump as they’re still a highly efficient way of heating your home. You can read more about the heat pumps and ECPs issue with Elmhurst Energy. Planned updates to building regulations in 2022 will mean that the home efficiency measures are proposed to have a more favourable focus towards electrification of home heating.

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