Energy performance certificate

by Hilary Grayson

The Energy Performance Certifi cate can off er agents a great deal of value if they choose to join forces with energy assessors and improve their grasp of what EPCs have to offer

HBOS has predicted that UK house prices are set to fall by 9% this year and that the number of sales transactions will decline by 45% year-on-year. On top of this, the Consumer Price Index – the Government’s inf lation measure – hit 3.3% last month. So average prices are 3.3% higher than a year ago – the biggest inf lationary increase since the index was introduced in 1997.

Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, blames the increase on recent rises in food and energy prices. In the year to May 31, world agricultural prices soared by 60% while UK retail food prices increased by 8%; oil prices rose by more than 80% to an average $123 (£62) per barrel and UK retail fuel prices increased by 20%; wholesale gas prices increased by 160% and UK household electricity and gas bills by around 10%.

King predicts that inf lation is likely to rise sharply in the second half of this year, to above 4%, hitting consumers’ pockets directly and, no doubt, impacting their decisions about whether now is the right time to buy. Meanwhile, homeowners question whether they need to trade down their current home, to be able to comfortably afford their mortgage repayments.

Some might say that agents have had an easy time of it over the past few years and it is difficult trading climates such as these that will sort the wheat from the chaff. Agents who bother to arm themselves with all the information prospective buyers need to motivate them to actually buy will survive the downturn. And where better to start than with the money they could save with some simple energy saving initiatives?

King has identified that a key inflationary pressure is the cost of energy. The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform estimates that 82% of energy used in households is for space or water heating and that since 1970, energy use for space heating has risen by 24%, for water heating by 15% and for lighting and appliances by a whopping 157%.

In contrast, energy use for cooking has fallen by 16%. Our lifestyles have changed and so has our demand for domestic energy.


The Energy Performance Certificate is clearly not a panacea for all the ills in the current downturn but it does at least provide a mechanism to help agents understand the properties they are selling, the concerns that might arise for potential buyers and how they could be addressed.

How many agents have ever looked at a Home Information Pack or EPC? We all know that the EPC shows the energy efficiency of a property and also its environmental impact – as the charts fridges and freezers in retail outlets testify – but how many of us know that the EPC also contains recommended ways to improve a property’s energy performance and an indication of the energy running cost?

Every EPC has a recommendations section listing measures that can improve energy performance:

  • Lower cost measures – below £500 installation cost;
  • Higher cost measures – above £500 installation cost;
  • Further measures – beyond the £500 installation cost.

By definition, if sellers improve the energy performance of their home, they will reduce its running costs. Ironically, some of the lower-cost measures are actually the most cost-effective and the least disruptive for the homeowner and, what’s more, they may just be the changes required to help them sell their home.

Buyers or sellers

So, why not look at the EPC? Look at the indicative running costs, read the recommendations and use this information to help your clients, be they buyers or sellers, to understand the home and how much it might cost to run.

If you don’t fully understand the EPC, ask your local domestic energy assessor to explain it to you – all DEAs should understand the EPC as well as just being able to collect the data. If they can’t, you need to use a different DEA.

An important point for sellers is that they may not have to foot the full costs of implementing recommendations in their EPC – grants are available and utility companies are desperate to contribute to wall, loft and hot-water tank insulation.

Where sellers are uninterested, a potential buyer might be. Always point out EPCs to prospective buyers and, where sellers have implemented recommendations, explain the consequent efficiencies the property now boasts.

Where EPC recommendations haven’t been implemented, get quotes for the cost of doing so and have them to hand to show any applicants. The EPC is here to stay, so use it. Ignore it at your peril.

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