What is an EPC Rating?
An EPC is required any time a property is built, sold, or rented. It will contain information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs, as well as recommendations on how to reduce energy use (and improve the rating). The rating scale is from A to G, with A being the most efficient and G being the least.
Unfortunately, homes heated via on-peak electric will almost always score lower than homes heated by less expensive gas or renewable energy sources. The same is true for older properties with poor heat retention in comparison to properties that are newer built and/or very well insulated.
What is Changing in the Private Rented Sector?
The Scottish Government had originally introduced regulations that would require properties in the private rented sector reach an EPC D by 2025.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the legislation has changed, as the private rented sector was very heavily impacted by the pandemic. Current legislation reads “all private rented sector properties are to reach a minimum standard equivalent to EPC C by 2025 where technically feasible and cost-effective, at change of tenancy, with a backstop of 2028 for all remaining existing properties. The previous option to introduce a standard of EPC D will not now be taken forward.”
This means that with the new regulations, exemptions will be available for properties where it is not technically feasible or cost-effective to reach the new standard of EPC C.
EPC Recommendations for Improvement
In the photo above, the various elements are all ranked from 1 to 5, with one being the least efficient and five being the most. Improving the lowest ranking elements on your EPC will increase your overall rating. In the case of the example above, the lowest ranking elements are the heat and hot water system, which is a storage electric water boiler. The original EPC rating for this property was a G – the lowest possible rating.
If the hot water and heating system were to be replaced with gas or a more efficient electric system, the rating would drastically improve and most likely meet the new regulations. The EPC report itself recommended fitting an 80mm insulating jacket on the existing tank, and would take the rating to an E – not quite meeting regulations, but still much better than G.
- Improve Your Central Heating System
New hot water cylinders are factory insulated to help retain heat for longer. If replacing the cylinder does not fit in your budget, consider topping up the insulation with an 80mm jacket. Modern ‘combi’ boilers are also much more efficient than their older system counterparts, as they heat hot water on demand and don’t require a hot water cylinder.
Overall, any gas boiler will rank as more efficient than electric heating systems, as EPC Ratings are more concerned with the base unit cost of energy rather than the cost at point-of-use.
- Heating Controls
Even if you have an older boiler, the introduction of modern controls such as a room thermostat, individual thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) and/or boiler programmer will positively improve energy performance. This is easy to do, but slightly more expensive to introduce.
This is an effective – and cost effective – way to improve energy performance. If the property has cavity walls, ensuring that they are filled will greatly affect the EPC. The 3 different materials used are expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, loose polystyrene beads, or wool – with EPS being the most expensive and effective. There are government grants and schemes in place to help offset the cost of cavity wall insulation.
- Loft Insulation
While not applicable to all properties, loft insulation is suitable for houses or top floor flats, and like wall cavity insulation it is quite cost effective. Ensuring the loft insulation is at least 270mm in depth, will make a significant improvement. If your loft is at 90mm or less, you can also get funding to have the loft filled or topped up.
- Double Glazing
This is the least cost effective improvement, as the payback period can be 15+ years and will have the highest upfront cost. In addition to raising performance ratings, new double glazed windows can also improve noise transmission, condensation issues, and are something tenants always look for when searching for a new place to call home.
If you have any questions on EPCs, improving your energy ratings, or the new legislation, we would be more than happy to help!