EPCs are rated on a scale from A to G, with a numerical figure from 0-upwards used to refine the rating further. It can seem a little mysterious how one building can get a C rating or another can get an E rating, when on the face of it the buildings might not look that different. In this blog, we want to try and give you a better idea of what actually goes towards the rating, and what is not considered at all.
Common Misconceptions about EPCs
There are several things that many customers think are part of the EPC process, but in fact are not considered at all. Let’s take you though some of the common ones and dispel any myths:
- Meter Readings – The assessor will want to see your gas and electric meters during the course of the visit, but this is simply to get a photo which can be requested during any subsequent audit. The photos will be used to confirm that the property has a gas and electric supply, and what type of meter you have. Readings are not taken or used in any way.
- Energy Bills – Your gas and electric usage is not considered in any way. The EPC is purely interested in the building itself, not how you use the property. You may pay as little as £10 a month or as much as £500 a month but this will not have any impact on the rating at all.
- Portable/Unfixed Heaters – If you use portable electric or gas heaters, these are not usually considered in the EPC. This is because they can be easily removed from the property and don’t form a permanent part of the dwelling.
- Furnishings, curtains, carpets and other decorations – There are some furnishings that can have energy saving properties; for example door draught excluders, carpets and curtains. These are not considered as part of the survey and will have no bearing on the final rating.
- Boilers – The only thing the assessor is looking for when viewing the boiler is the model number and make. The assessor is not a qualified gas engineer and so won’t do anything to the boiler itself except take a few photos and check the boiler plate for the details. Which leads on to our next point…
- Invasive measurements or testing – The EPC is defined as a non-invasive survey, and that means that anything which cannot be seen from a visual inspection can not be included in the EPC unless documentary evidence is available. The assessor will not drill any holes or otherwise disturb the building.
- Customer Knowledge – Although it can be very useful to get information on access and finding various features in the building, the assessor cannot take hearsay and customer knowledge into account when assessing the property. This is because there needs to be visual or documentary evidence to be able to include certain details in the EPC. For example, the customer might indicate that the property was built with insulation in the roof, but if the assessor cannot get into the roof space to confirm this, and there is no documentation left behind by the builder, then ‘as built’ is entered in the software and the EPC will assume defaults based on the age of the building.
Away from the actual visit, there are also some other misconceptions surrounding the EPC itself, lets cover some of those as well:
- A common misconception for landlords is that an electrical safety inspection is sufficient and that an EPC is not required. This is incorrect – an EPC is always required if you are letting out your property, or if you are selling it.
- EPCs required at each sale – An EPC is valid for 10 years however many times you sell or let the property. There may be certain situations where the EPC becomes invalid, usually due to modifications to the property or changes to the areas that are being let, but generally if a property has an EPC dated within the last 10 years you will not need a new one for sales and lettings. If you are getting the EPC for feed in tariff or RHI payments, or for other funding measures, then there are different criteria and you may need a new EPC.
- The EPC is a formality – For the moment, there are no penalties for getting a low grade on your EPC, but from April 2018, the government will relondquire all new rental leases to have an EPC E rating or better. This is big news as there are many properties not meeting this minimum rating, so don’t see your EPC as a formality, especially if you are planning to let the property.
- You can get an EPC for £30 – You see some ads online for cheap EPCs at a rate of £30 or less in some places. These are usually misleading or inaccurate. To get an EPC at this low price, many corners need to be cut to make it viable, and that means the end rating is going to be a poor reflection of the building, and you could end up with an EPC that doesn’t meet the standard you need. We recommend getting a quality EPC assessor – our EPC assessors are registered low carbon consultants with CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) for example, with our prices ranging depending on the size of the property and the work involved. You get what you pay for!