Since April 2018, it has been illegal for landlords to let properties which do not achieve a minimum performance rating of E on an EPC. Should landlords fail to comply with this legislation, local councils have the power to mete out fines as high as £5,000.
What is an EPC?
An EPC, or ‘Energy Performance Certificate’ is a piece of documentation which tells potential renters how much it will cost to heat and light a property, as well as the amount of CO2 the property produces. An inspection of the property must be carried out by an accredited assessor and will take roughly two hours to complete. The EPC is then valid for ten years. The ratings which can be achieved range from G (the worst rating) to A (the best). The assessor will rate your property on a scale from 0 – 100; certain numbers fall within each band. A register of EPCs for England and Wales can be found here.
Properties which fall into the upper bands are the most energy efficient, have the lowest energy bills and are arguably more attractive to tenants. A higher rental yield can often be commanded on high performing properties.
If your property has a low EPC rating, don’t despair. There are a number of ways you can improve it and ensure your property meets regulations. Follow our advice below and remember, any changes you make to the property must be permanent to count towards your rating.
The best way to improve your property’s EPC rating is to install insulation. If your property was built before the 1920s, it is highly likely that it has solid walls. If this is the case, solid wall insulation can be fitted from inside each room. Rock wool should be used, at a minimum depth of 270mm. If the property was built after this date, it will probably have cavity walls. The cavity can be pumped with insulating expanding foam easily and cheaply. If you install insulation in a property which originally had none, you can improve your EPC rating by 15 points.
Roughly a quarter of a property’s heat is lost through the roof. You should therefore make fitting insulation in the roofspace, and in the attic, if you have one, a key priority.
10% of a property’s heat is lost through its windows, so you need to make sure that they are suitably insulated. Though expensive, the best way to do this is to fit double glazing. Doing so will not only increase your EPC rating but will also make the property much warmer and quieter and reduce the chance of condensation forming. You could also consider secondary glazing, which is cheaper but less effective at keeping heat in the property.
If you’ve got a boiler that’s been in place since you bought your property, it’s probably time to consider replacing it with a modern ‘A-rated’ one. The latest boilers are hugely efficient and usually have features such as a programmer and thermostat built in. If you have a hot water cylinder, you should also buy an insulating jacket for it – they can be purchased for as little as £20. Given that as much as 55% of a property’s energy costs go on heating, it’s of little surprise that fitting a new boiler and improving your central heating system has an enormous effect on your EPC rating.
In 2018, it was announced that traditional halogen bulbs would gradually be phased out; they are now no longer available for purchase on the high street. You should instead opt for LED bulbs for your property. Not only are they brighter and more energy efficient, they can also last between twenty and thirty years, saving you money in the long term (halogen bulbs typically only last for two years). Fitting LED bulbs will only make a small difference to your EPC rating, but the savings you make are worth the initial higher purchase price.
If you really want to bring your home into the 21st Century, you may decide to invest in some renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, though these are expensive and if you want to see their advantages, a long-term mindset is required. Fitting solar panels may increase the value of your property, especially in a few years’ time when there is an even greater pressure to move away from fossil fuel usage.
If you need advice about bringing your property up to standard and improving your EPC rating, please speak to a member of our maintenance team, who will be happy to help. If you have a Bolton property to let, contact us.