Energy performance certificates are intended to provide prospective property owners and tenants with an indication of the potential energy usage of the property and the environmental impact as measured by CO2 production. Our government estimates that over a quarter of energy usage in the UK is from domestic property so any measure that can help cut this usage is considered to be extremely valuable, both on a global scale in reducing global warming effects, on a national level by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and on a personal level by reducing energy costs, especially as they appear to be spiralling ever upwards.
As well as assessing the energy usage the EPC also provides the property owner with recommendations for simple procedures that will improve the energy efficiency of the property such as installing cavity wall insulation or increasing loft insulation. Environmental groups are heavily in favour of the EPC which sadly has gained a rather tarnished reputation because of it's association with the heavily criticised Home Information Pack (HIP) which must contain one.
On balance most people will consider EPCs a good thing because of the potential reduction in environmental damage if the recommendations contained in it are followed.
So who needs an EPC? From October 1st this year all landlords must have an EPC to show to prospective tenants and an EPC must be included in all new rental agreements. All residential property that is being marketed must have a HIP which includes an EPC, which must be less than a year old. All residential property that is being marketed and does not have a HIP (i. e. continuous marketing before HIP became mandatory) must still have an EPC.
EPCs are provided by Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs) who are specially qualified and accredited to assess domestic property and to input data into government standardised software to produce the energy certificate and recommendations. It is important for those commissioning EPCs, generally estate agents, solicitors or home owners direct to know who will do the assessment as this does entail a visit to the property and inspection of all rooms in the property including bedrooms, lofts etc. Also note DEAs are NOT government employees as say an environmental health inspector is.
So how do you get an EPC? Home sellers may be offered one, maybe even for free, as part of the estate agents sale package. But take care, the agent will often farm this work out to a so called national HIP provider who will use a local “panel" DEA to do the assessment. This means he will have no idea who he will be sending into his clients home and whilst most DEAs are good upstanding citizens the potential for problems is evident in this approach. Also remember nothing is really free, the seller will pay somewhere. Also should the seller wish to move agents he may find that the agent will not release the HIP and EPC until it is paid for, often at an extortionate rate. An excellent alternative is to use local qualified DEAs and for the home seller to commission his own HIP and EPC. Although he will pay up front for this he does then own it and can use it as he pleases. He can also shop around for the best value.
Landlords have pretty much the same dilemma, if they use a managing agent they can simply leave it to then to commission an EPC or they can commission the EPC themselves from local DEAs.
But whatever approach is used from 1st October all new tenancy agreements and all property for sale will need an EPC and from 1st January 2009 the selling agent must have the EPC “in his hand" before he can start marketing whereas at present he must simply be able to show he has ordered one, no matter how long it may take to get it.
Andrew Fretwell is a full city and Guilds trained and registered Domestic Energy Assessor who works locally in the South East with several other qualified assessors to provide a reliable, rapid and professional service. http://www.southernenergyassessments.co.uk