Dear Chris, I am thinking of renting out my home for a year while I am travelling abroad, and have been told by a friend that I need an energy certificate.
Iím not really sure what an energy certificate is, or if I actually need one. Do residential homes need energy certificates?
Also, where and how would I go about getting one if I do need one?
Gregory Simpson, via email, Tuesday 2 December, 2008
Your friend is absolutely right; if you want to rent out your home while you are travelling, you will have to apply for an Energy Performance Certificate.
Since October 2008, whenever a building is built, sold or rented out, it must have a certificate showing its energy efficiency grade, by law. Read my guide below to find out more on Energy Performance Certificates.
As of October 2008, the law requires all properties that are built, sold or put up for rent in England and Wales to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Northern Ireland and Scotland are currently producing their own regulations.
Even if you do not fall into the above categories, you can still apply for and receive an EPC. This may be because you want to know what the energy efficiency of your home is and implement improvements suggested by the recommendation report.
Make sure you sign up with Smartlandlord.co.uk and get discounted rates on your energy performance certificate.
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives homeowners, tenants, landlords and potential buyers a certificate on the energy efficiency of their property. An EPC gives a building a standard energy and carbon emission efficiency grade from A to G, with A being the most efficient and G the least. Currently, the average rating* for homes in the UK is D.
The diagram below shows an example of an energy efficiency rating graph for an average home:
The ratings are similar to those found on products such as fridges and washing machines, and are standard so the energy efficiency of one building can be easily compared with another similar building.
The rating is a measure of a homeís overall efficiency. The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the home is, and the lower the fuel bills are likely to be.
An EPC also includes a propertyís environmental impact rating. This is a measure of a homeís impact on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - the higher the rating, the less impact it has on the environment.
As well as giving an energy efficiency rating for your property, the certificate also includes a recommendation report, providing information and ways to improve the energy performance of the property.
The report lists:
In addition, an EPC must also convey several other key pieces of information:
Reference information - This includes the type of property (e.g. house, flat), the unique reference number (as stored in the central register) and date of the certificate.
Estimated energy use - An estimate of the current and potential energy use, carbon emissions and fuel costs for lighting, heating and hot water.
Energy assessor details - This includes the assessorís name, accreditation number, company name (or trading name if self employed) and contact details.
Complaints - The certificate will list details of how to complain about a certificate, or check its authenticity.
Energy advice - The certificate provides basic advice about being more energy efficient.
Click here for an example of an EPC.
Each EPC rating is graded on the same factors, so you can compare the energy efficiency of similar properties.
Ratings are based on the performance of the building itself and its services, such as the heating and lighting, rather than the domestic appliances within it.
The ratings will vary according to the age, location, size and condition of the property. The potential rating on the certificate will take these factors into account, and the suggested recommendations for improving ratings will be tailored so that they are realistic for each specific building.
You can only get an EPC by having an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor survey your property. Accredited energy assessors may be employed through a company (such as an estate agent or an energy company), or they can be independent traders. You should always check they operate as part of an accreditation scheme, as this ensures your energy assessor is operating to professional standards.
The price of an EPC is set by the accredited organisations which issue them, but if youíre a landlord applying for an EPC then the cost for an average house is about £100.
Getting an EPC for an average sized home doesnít take too long, normally the same amount of time as a house valuation report which has to be prepared when a property is put up for sale. However the exact time will vary from property to property.
The information in an EPC can be very useful, not just for landlords and people buying a property, but also if you want to find out how you can improve the energy rating of your home, and save money on bills.
An EPC can help:
You are not legally required to act on the recommendations contained in the recommendation report, but if you decide to, then it could make your property more attractive for sale or rent by making it more energy efficient. Or help lower your bills.
There are many ways in which to cut down your energy consumption, and lower your householdís gas and electricity bills.
Firstly you should ensure you are on the tariff that offers you the best value for money, which may mean switching suppliers. Use our online comparison tool to compare prices and find a better deal that suits you.
If you are worried about estimated bills then make sure you give your supplier an up-to-date meter reading, and sign up to an online account to guarantee your bills are accurate.
If you donít already pay by Direct Debit, you should consider paying this way, as energy suppliers offer a discount for paying in this way. For more ways to reduce your bills, read these articles:
I hope this helps answer your question Gregory!
* According to public services website Directgov
If you have an energy query please email firstname.lastname@example.org