Energy efficient homes

Energy efficiency in UK homes

image of a picture perfect cottage homeTurning the UK carbon neutral by 2050 comes at a cost, and with residential property currently one of the biggest producers of greenhouses gases, homeowners of less energy efficient homes are going to be hard hit to meet coming requirements. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is considering changes to housing energy performance certificates (EPCs) to help meet climate change targets.

It is thought likely the government will encourage all homes to achieve EPC level C or higher by 2030. Part of the plan is to expect banks to lend mortgage money for the purchase of energy efficient homes with higher EPC ratings. Fines will be issued to lenders who provide mortgages for the purchase of less energy efficient properties, meaning older and less energy efficient homes in particular will become more expensive.

Not only will this deter those which fall short but it will also effectively make it harder to sell a property with an EPC rating of D or below. It is thought that two thirds of the UK’s homes are currently in this bracket.

There is already an EPC minimum requirement for landlords, who can only legally rent out their property to new and existing tenants if the property has an EPC rating of E or above. However, the government has already set landlords a target for properties in England and Wales to reach an EPC rating of C or above by 2035. There will be a penalty of up to £30,000 for non-compliance. An EPC is valid for ten years and must be renewed after this time, or the landlord faces a fine of £5,000.

A consultation is currently underway to increase the minimum target to EPC  B for privately rented homes.

What is an EPC?

The Energy Performance Certificate was first introduced in 2007 in England and Wales. The EPC rates the property’s energy performance and is awarded a certificate on a scale of A (the most efficient) to G (the least efficient).

An EPC is provided by an accredited energy assessor who also provides a list of recommendations that will improve the property’s energy efficiency and possibly also attract funding to help carry out the work. It is not currently binding that property owners carry out any of the recommendations.

It should be noted that the EPC has been shown to sometimes not accurately reflect the actual energy use of the building.

House builders, property sellers and landlords are responsible for ensuring the property has an EPC, and should be available without cost to home buyers and tenants.

More energy efficient homes will have a lower carbon footprint, be cheaper to run and a more comfortable place in which to live. It will also make your property more attractive to potential buyers when it comes to selling.

There are some relatively simple ways in which you can improve your home’s energy efficiency, including:

  • Installing LED light bulbs
  • Improving insulations in walls and roof space
  • Installing double or triple glazing
  • Using a smart meter
  • Installing an energy-efficient heating system or boiler

Investing in renewal energy, such as installing solar panels or an air source heat pump, will also improve the property’s EPC.