Energy efficiency standards
Minimum energy efficiency standards
What is an Energy Performance Certificate and why is it important?
You may have come across the term Energy Performance Certificate or an EPC when you have bought or rented a property. It may come as surprise that this certificate is important when deciding on where to live.
One of the biggest financial impacts of running a home are energy costs, which seemingly go up all the time. But how can you tell how much energy your new home will consume? Well, that's where an Energy Performance Certificate comes in, this certificate will provide an estimate on how much it will cost to power your new home. It is very easy to tell if your new property will be costly to heat by referring to the EPC rating, a rating of an 'A' will indicate a property is very energy efficient and progressing down the scale will indicate a less energy efficient property.
A less energy efficient property will cost you more to heat. For example, two properties, semi-detached, with floor space of 135-144 m2, the estimated energy costs for heat, light and hot water:
an 'A' rated home costs a total of £1,701 over 3 years - equal to just under £45 a month.
a 'G' rated house costs a total of £11,010 over 3 years - equal to just over £300 a month
Reducing your monthly energy is not just good for your pocket but will reduce your carbon emission foot print. Around 22% of the UK's carbon emissions come from our homes, so it can make a really difference to choose a property with a low EPC rating.
The certificate is also useful to a homeowner so that they can see where they can make savings and improvements on their energy use to improve their EPC rating.
View an example EPC certificate. If the certificate suggests the boiler is inefficient it's likely to mean the boiler is old and may be coming to the end of its life and may need replacing in the near future.
Depending on your circumstances funding may be available to improve the Energy Performance of a property.
Tenanted Residential Properties
If you rent a property, by law, the EPC rating must be greater than a 'E' unless an applicable exemption is registered on the PRS national exemption register. You can check you properties EPC rating on the GOV.UK website. If your EPC rating is an F or a G then please contact the Environmental Health Department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org since your landlord may be breaking the law.
Landlord and Potential Landlords
From 1st April 2020 all domestic private rental properties must have at a minimum an EPC rating of an E, whether a new tenancy is being signed or not. You can check you properties EPC rating on the GOV.UK website. If you currently let or plan to buy a residential property which has an EPC rating below an E then please seek further advice on how to improve the energy efficiency rating.
Non-compliance with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) can attract a financial penalty of up to £5,000.
Why has this been introduced?
These regulations have been introduced to address the following issues:
Poor energy efficiency in a person's home can lead to lower indoor temperatures in the winter months. Exposure to cold has been associated with increased winter deaths, risk of respiratory and circulatory conditions, cardiovascular problems, and arthritic and rheumatic illnesses; and can exacerbate existing health conditions, including common flu and cold, and allergies. An inadequate indoor temperature can also reduce injury from accidents as higher temperatures improve general safety, hand strength and dexterity. Cold living conditions can also affect mental health as cold homes can cause stress and anxiety.
There are 2.4 million households in fuel poverty across the country, over 10% of properties. The highest number is now in the owner-occupied sector with 51%, with only 47% of households in fuel poverty in receipt of means tested benefits. Private rented sector also tend to be deeper in fuel poverty, with an average fuel poverty gap of £334, compared to £175 for those in local authority housing.
It is also known that 52% of households living in F and G properties are classified as fuel poor, with an average fuel poverty gap of nearly £1,000. As there is a disproportionate share of the UK's least energy-efficient properties and fuel-poor households in the PRS by prioritising the enforcement of the PRS regulations to those in the deepest levels of fuel poverty we could really make a difference in the sector.
.(Reference BEIS committee on fuel poverty annual report June 2020)
The Private Rented Sector has doubled in size since 2002 in the UK and now accounts for around 20% of the UK's total housing stock. F and G rated properties waste energy. They impose unnecessary cost on tenants and they contribute to avoidable greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing the energy efficiency of our PRS can significantly contribute to Government and Local targets for the reduction of carbon emissions.
The 2015 Fuel Strategy makes provision for as many private rented homes as possible to be upgraded to EPC D by 2025 and C by 2030, although these targets have not yet been embodied into legislation yet the Clean Growth Strategy also announced that the Government will look at a long term trajectory for energy performance standards across the PRS, with the aim of as many private rented homes as possible being upgraded to EPC band C by 2030, where practical, cost-effective and affordable.
What are your Legal Obligations as a landlord?
The responsibility of a landlord is to ensure that they met the underlying principle of the Housing Act 2004 in that - any residential premises should provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupier or visitor.
To meet the above principle Local authorities, have a legal duty and powers to tackle poor housing conditions. When local authority officers inspect a dwelling, they will look for any risk of harm to an actual or potential occupier of a dwelling, which results from any deficiency that can give rise to a hazard. They will judge the severity of the risk by considering the likelihood of an occurrence that could cause harm over the next twelve months, and the range of harms that could result. The local authority officer will make these judgements by reference to those who, mostly based on age, would be most vulnerable to the hazard, even if people in these age groups may not actually be living at the property at the time.
We will use a formal scoring system called the Housing, Health and Safety Rating Scheme to demonstrate the seriousness of hazards that can cause harm in dwellings.
If there are risks to the health or safety of occupants that we think should be dealt with, owners and landlords will have to put matters right.
For category 1 hazards we will be under a duty to take Enforcement Action.
Category 2 hazards will be ones that the we judge are not as serious. For these less severe hazards we will still be able to take action if we think it is necessary.