You’ve probably seen energy ratings regularly, often attached to electrical appliances like your fridge, washing machine or television. Did you know that your home has one too? You’d be forgiven if you were unaware though it is becoming quite common knowledge now, especially with the latest change to the private rented sector where homes must meet a minimum energy efficiency rating of E or above before they’re marketed to let. Whilst you may be aware of Energy Efficiency Ratings, you may not be quite fully informed as to what all the ratings actually mean. Because energy efficiency is important and becoming increasingly more so with the latest government plans to make the country carbon neutral so we’ve put together a simple guide to help you understand what an EPC is, how it’s calculated and how it can impact your energy bills.

So, what is an Energy Efficiency Rating?

An energy efficiency rating which you’ll find on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of your property or on the literature you receive with most electrical appliances is a bar chart that tells you how energy efficient (how efficient you’re using your energy) something is, in the case of an EPC, it will compare how energy efficient your home is now and how energy efficient your  home could be, it will also provide recommendations on what you can do to improve your home’s energy efficiency. The EPC is a report that tells you about your energy usage and how to help lower your carbon dioxide emissions. The more carbon dioxide your property emits, calculated by a Government algorithm (more on that later!), the less energy efficient your home will be. Other things taken into consideration is how much heat you’re losing through the walls and windows and how much energy you’re actually using on a day to day basis. The less energy efficient your property is, the higher your bills will be but we have a solution for that too! For example, if your home is given an E rating and the number is 49, this will be an E49 rating, however, if the potential rating was a C with a score of 76 (C76), it will mean various actions you take (as recommended in an EPC) you can reach a maximum energy efficiency of C76 and because every home is measured in the same way to strict standards, you can see how your home compares to other properties if you’re feeling environmentally competitive!

How is it calculated?

The Energy Efficiency Rating is calculated using an algorithm which Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs) feed data into. To simplify;

  1. A DEA will visit your property and look at every relevant feature, the type and age of your property, the building materials used, the size, the empty space, the heating system, insulation, window seal quality as well as whether the property is double glazed, how old the boiler is and the types of lights it uses. LED lightbulbs are the most energy efficient and can knock 30% off your bills!
  2. They then take all of this data and run it through their computer which feeds it into the government algorithm.
  3. After a few seconds, the algorithm spits out a number which will determine your Energy Efficiency Rating which forms the basis of your Energy Performance Certificate.

The DEA, who is accredited (this isn’t something any Joe Bloggs could do unless they had a bit of training) to perform their role, wouldn’t look at your appliances in your home. The EPC is purely from a structural point of view itself. Oftentimes, a large room will be less energy efficient than a smaller one which is meant by the empty space mentioned in point 1 above. So, this means how you use the energy in your home, how often you have the heating on and other unmeasurable (in terms of practicality) variables will not be taken into consideration of an Energy Efficiency Rating. This means a homeowner can have an EPC rating of F and still spend less money on their bills than someone with an EPC rating of E.

Do I need one for my home?

If you own, let or sell a property, then yes! There is a cost attached with obtaining an EPC but it is a legal requirement to have an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) in some cases, such as if you’re looking to let or sell your property. It’s also very useful to know how energy efficient your home is and what measures you can take to improve your energy efficiency. Whilst previously we said and it is true that one person can have a poorer rating than your property and spend less on their utilities, taking energy efficiency improvement measures will reduce the amount of energy you need to use. The higher the rating, the more environmentally friendly your property will be too. Energy Performance Certificates expire after ten years but you can get one before the ten-year expiry, in which case, the previous expiry date will be revoked and replaced with a new ten-year expiry.

How does my home’s energy efficiency rating affect my bills?

Your EPC will give an indication of how much it will cost to heat and power your home and details are also listed on potential savings that could be made should you improve the energy efficiency of your household running costs but this doesn’t mean you can’t save even more money on your bills alongside improving the energy efficiency of your home.

Are there any types of buildings that don’t need an Energy Efficiency Rating?

A few building types don’t require an EPC. These include;

  • Buildings that will be used for less than two years (eg. mobile offices for construction sites).
  • Places of worship
  • Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings
  • Holiday accommodation that’s rented out for less than 4 months a year or is let under a licence to occupy.
  • Properties that are less than 50m2.

So what are Energy Efficiency Ratings all about?

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) give information on how to make your home more energy efficient and reduce your energy costs. All homes bought, sold or rented require an EPC.

Energy use and potential savings

EPCs carry ratings that compare the current energy efficiency and estimated costs of energy use with potential figures that your home could achieve. Potential figures are calculated by estimating what the energy efficiency and energy costs could be if energy saving measures were put in place. The rating measures the energy efficiency of your home using a grade from ‘A’ to ‘G’. An ‘A’ rating is the most efficient, while ‘G’ is the least efficient. The average efficiency grade to date is ‘D’. All homes are measured using the same calculations, so you can compare the energy efficiency of different properties. This means the more energy efficient your property is, the more you’ll save.

The recommendation report

EPCs also provide a detailed recommendation report showing how you could reduce the amount of energy you use and your carbon dioxide emissions. The report lists:

  • suggested improvements, like fitting loft insulation
  • possible cost savings per year, if the improvements are made
  • how the recommendations would change the energy efficiency rating of the property
  • which improvements may be eligible for funding through the Green Deal (for more information, see ‘The Green Deal’ section further down this page)

You don’t have to act on the recommendations in the recommendation report. However, if you decide to do so, it could make your property more attractive for sale or rent by making it more energy efficient.