The UK government is actively seeking to lower our carbon emissions and increase the level of energy efficiency in our homes. There are targets for us to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to help us achieve them, there are a number of rules and regulations that we must follow.
This article takes you through the regulations outlined by the government’s Minimum Energy-Efficiency Standards (MEES) and informs you of how you can ensure that you comply with them.
What is an EPC rating?
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is used to indicate a property’s level of energy-efficiency. Ranging from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient), these certificates also highlight any improvements that could be made to the property to help boost its efficiency. They are typically valid for 10 years in total.
What do EPC ratings mean?
EPC ratings provide homeowners and potential tenants with an idea of how much a household could cost to run. The certificate features factors such as:
- The property’s energy efficiency rating
- Estimated energy use, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and fuel costs of the home
- Environmental impact CO2 rating
- Summary of the property’s energy performance related features
- Recommended measures to improve the property’s energy performance
The A (high efficiency) to G (low efficiency) grading system helps to label and categorise property ratings. It is known as the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP).
What are the current regulations?
In April 2018, there was a change in the regulations which stated that all properties within the private rented sector, unless legally exempt, must have a minimum Energy Performance rating of E and an SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) score of 54.
Looking ahead, the government plans on increasing the minimum energy efficiency rating to a ‘D’ rating by 2025 and a ‘C’ rating by 2030.
What does this mean for landlords?
Landlords must aim to improve the energy efficiency of the properties that they rent. In the past, this may not have been a priority. However, now landlords could face fines and penalties for not complying with these rules; their properties could also be removed from the market. Additionally, considering the current focus on environmental conservation, having a low EPC rating could also deter potential tenants.
As a landlord, you are legally obligated to provide an EPC certificate as soon as you put your property on the market. You could be fined approximately £200 for failing to provide a valid EPC.
If you are a landlord of a property that has a low EPC rating, you will have to retrofit your property to increase its energy efficiency.
What does this mean for tenants?
As a tenant, you should ensure that you are able to access the EPC rating of the property that you are/will be renting and make sure that you have reviewed it. You should make sure that you check the EPC rating of a property before you agree to rent it because this could impact your bills and carbon footprint. We recommend being wary of properties that have an EPC rating of F or G.
Additionally, if the property is towards the lower end of the scale, don’t be afraid to ask your landlord whether they have any plans to improve its energy efficiency.
How do I get an EPC Certificate & how much do they cost?
If you are a landlord or homeowner, you can get an Energy Performance certificate by hiring an accredited domestic energy assessor to inspect your property. There is an EPC register available online which provides access to existing EPC certificates – you could also find a local registered domestic energy assessor. Alternatively, if you are working with a letting agent, they may be able to recommend someone to assess the property for you.
The price of an EPC certificate usually starts at around £35, but this can vary. Costs tend to rely on factors such as the type of property, its location and the number of bedrooms it has.
Are any properties exempt from the MEES regulations?
Not all buildings need an EPC certificate. The following buildings are exempt from the MEES rules regarding EPC certificates:
- Temporary buildings that will be used for less than 2 years
- Places of worship (churches, synagogues, mosques etc.)
- Certain buildings that are due to be demolished
- Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that do not use a lot of energy
- Stand-alone buildings with total useful floor space of less than 50 square metres
- Holiday accommodation that is rented out for less than 4 months a year or is let under a licence to occupy
- Residential buildings intended to be used less than 4 months a year
- Listed buildings (get advice from your local authority conservation officer if the work would alter the building’s character)
You should bear in mind that an exemption is only valid for 5 years. After this period, it will need renewing.
How can I increase my property’s EPC rating?
It is always a good idea to try to increase your property’s energy efficiency. Doing so not only means that you are abiding by the government’s MEES regulations, but it also means that you are doing your bit for the environment.
Here’s a list of measures that could be added to your property to boost its energy efficiency:
- Smart thermostats
- An A-rated new boiler
- Extra home insulation (such as loft, walls and roofs)
- Low-energy lightbulbs
- Double glazing
- High performance external doors
- Air source heat pumps
- Micro wind generation
Getting a new boiler
Getting a brand-new, A-rated boiler installed into your property could help to boost its level of energy efficiency. If you have an old or inefficient boiler, your EPC rating will not be as high as it would be if you got a new boiler installed. HomeServe can help you select a suitable new boiler system for your home and our Gas Safe registered engineers could provide you with a professional installation.
We always seek to go the extra mile for our customers, so our engineers could also recommend ways in which you could further enhance the levels of energy efficiency in your home. Whether you need advice on boiler brands or smart thermostats, our experts have the skills and expertise to help you heat your home efficiently.