Are Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) important when buying a home?

Sellers have to provide an EPC to potential buyers. They can be a helpful guide to the energy efficiency of a property but should not be taken as gospel.

What is an EPC?

It’s a standardised document which ranks properties in terms of energy efficiency, and which homesellers have to provide to potential buyers.

EPCs include information about the property’s energy use and costs as well as recommendations about how to make it more efficient and cheaper to run. Properties are ranked from A to G, A being the most energy efficient.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are needed whenever a property is:


You must order an EPC for potential buyers and tenants before you market your property to sell or rent. 

An EPC contains:

Information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs 

Recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money 

An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years

How thorough is the energy assessment?

Assessors are not allowed to be invasive when carrying out a survey. That means, for example, that he or she can’t drill into the walls or ceilings to establish the condition of insulation or even whether the building is insulated at all.

Because of this, assessors often have to either assume the worst or go by whatever the property holder tells them.

Do all properties have one?

EPCs are not required for listed buildings. This is because improvements such as installing double glazing are often prohibited because they require structural changes.

Can I keep the EPC the seller gives me and use it if I decide to sell up?

Yes, EPCs were introduced in 2007 and they are valid for ten years. So hold on to it – you won’t need a new one until at least 2017.

How to get an EPC?

You’ll need to find an accredited assessor if you’re selling or renting out your home in, we can help you. They’ll assess your property and produce the certificate. You can be fined if you don’t get an EPC when you need one. The person selling the house, the landlord or the letting agent must show you the EPC if you’re buying or renting.

Buildings that don’t need an EPC, these include:

  • Places of worship

  • Temporary buildings that will be used for less than 2 years

  • Stand-alone buildings with total useful floor space of less than 50 square metres

  • Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings that don’t use a lot of energy

  • Some buildings that are due to be demolished

  • Holiday accommodation that’s rented out for less than 4 months a year or is let under a licence to occupy

  • Listed buildings - you should get advice from your local authority conservation officer if the work would alter the building’s character

  • Residential buildings intended to be used less than 4 months a year
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