An insulated home to improve EPC rating. A guide from SAM Conveyancing
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How to Improve EPC Rating & Why It Matters

(Last Updated: 21/09/2023)
7 min read
Key Takeaways
  • EPC ratings range from A to G
  • Improving your EPC rating can save you money on your household bills or make your property more desirable to buyers or renters
  • Rented properties must meet a minimum rating of E but this is set to rise to C in the near future
  • Residential properties must have an EPC certificate to be sold, except for listed buildings and some others.
  • We have listed 7 tips to improve EPC rating, some cheaper and others costing more but returning bigger scores.

Why should you improve EPC rating?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rates the energy efficiency of the property. The lower the rating, the more energy the property wastes and the higher the rating, the more affordable the property will be to run, relatively. The EPC will also outline the typical energy usage & costs and recommend how to reduce them.

A recent study we commissioned from YouGov revealed that 59% of homeowners didn't factor energy performance into their decision to choose a property. Over 30% considered it to be a factor but not a priority and only 5% considered it a top priority. However, that number almost doubles with buyers ages 25-34 (9%) and may be even higher in under 25s.

With 35% of buyers already factoring the EPC into their decision, we can assume this number will grow as the climate conscious generation age into a greater share of the market. And if saving the planet, your utility costs and appeal to buyers isn't a good enough reason for you to improve EPC rating, there is proposed legislation likely to come in over the next few years which will stop landlords from renting properties with an EPC score below C.

So, if you are a landlord, or hope to become one in the future, perhaps an improved EPC rating deserves a top spot in your priorities now.

Landlords who don't comply will be fined

The minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) requires landlords of private domestic rented properties to achieve a minimum EPC rating of E. This is likely to rise to C in the future. If your assured, regulated or domestic agricultural tenancies do not meet MEES you can be fined up to £5000, unless the property is legally exempt.

What should I do first to improve EPC rating?

1. Lighting

One of the easiest and cheapest changes you can make to improve EPC rating is to replace your lightbulbs. Old bulbs, particularly halogen bulbs, waste much more energy in heat, blow easily and can even pose a fire risk. LED bulbs are cool, longer lasting and provide long term savings on your electricity consumption.

2. Replace the old boiler

New boilers have come on leaps and bounds in energy efficiency. Depending on just how old and clapped-out the boiler is, a new one could Improve EPC rating by as much as 20 points and cost just one or two thousand pounds. Make sure you get a certificate.

Diagram showing heat loss through walls and roof. SAM Conveyancing explain how much you can improve EPC rating with Loft and Cavity Wall Insulation

Boiler Upgrade Scheme

You can do even better by opting for an air or ground source heat pump, or a biomass boiler - if you meet eligibility criteria for the government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme, you could get £5,000 or more to help pay for your new heating system.

In an announcement made in September 2023, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to increase the grant amount from £5,000 to £7,500.

3. Insulation: Roof, Walls, Floor & Hot Water Cylinder

An uninsulated property loses about a third of its heat through the roof. Building regulations require all new buildings to use 270mm or more, so this is a good minimum to aim for in the roof if you want to compete with modern homes and it can score you 10-15 points

Wall insulation can be added to cavity walls or to older, double-skinned block walls. Cavity wall insulation is much cheaper to install (a few hundred pounds), whereas external solid wall insulation can cost around £8,000-£22,000 and may not be the most cost effective way to improve EPC rating.

10-20% of a buildings heat can be lost through an uninsulated floor. Insulating under the floorboards of a suspended floor will cost a couple of thousand pounds, but will be more expensive for solid floors as the floor may have to be ripped up and re-laid and may involve adjusting the level.

The good news is many older buildings with solid walls have suspended floors, meaning if you cannot easily insulate one, you are more likely to be able to insulate the other.

A hot water cylinder jacket costs less than £20 and upgrading to British standard jacket (80mm) can save more than twice that per year, compared to 25mm insulation.

4. Consider updating single or blown glazing to double or triple glazing

Even a well insulated home will haemorrhage energy through heat-leaking doors and windows. If you have single or blown glazing, or poorly fitted windows and doors heat will be escaping and damaging your EPC rating. Double glazing is the most cost effective way to improve EPC rating; you can gain 5-10 points for just a few thousand pounds. Triple glazing is even more efficient, but significantly more expensive than double for not much more in the way of your EPC score.

An example of blown windows. Replacing or upgrading your windows can improve EPC rating

5. Update heating

If you've got the insulation up to a good standard and the property is conserving energy effectively, underfloor heating runs cooler and consumes less energy to heat the house, especially water systems as opposed to electric. If you are having to pull up the ground floor to insulate properly, this may be the perfect time to lay heating pipes before the floor goes down again, however it can cost anything from £50-£200 per sq. metre.

6. Consider renewable energy options

Installing solar panels or heat pumps are more expensive options, costing thousands to install and saving hundreds per year. It is s a longer term investment which may not appeal so much to landlords but could be an excellent move for homeowners with some money to invest, who are looking to minimise their regular outgoings long term. Plus, this will appeal to energy conscious buyers. Keep an eye out for incentives the government run from time to time, which may help to finance sustainable home improvements like this.

Solar panels on a house to improve EPC rating

7. Ask for support from your supplier

If the property is rated D or below (for homeowners on certain benefits) or E or below (for properties let privately to tenants on certain benefits) the energy supplier may be required to help with insulation or boiler or heating system upgrades under the government's 'Energy Company Obligation'.

Pics or it didn't happen!

Make sure you keep documentation of home improvements, as your EPC assessor will need this to confirm any inaccessible works which should improve your EPC rating.

Are you buying or selling a home with poor EPC rating?
Our hand selected conveyancing solicitors can help you buy or sell, whether you've got time to improve your rating or you need to move quickly. We have local RICS surveyors all over the country, ready to help buyers assess the improvements required to improve EPC rating and save on bills.

Frequently Asked Questions
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing
Written by:
Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Reviewed by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.

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