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Energy Ratings Explained

Energy ratings can be confusing, especially to those who are new to the housing market. It’s easy to mistake them for the EU energy rating labels which have become a common sight in appliance stores and for those looking at houses to rent or buy. These ratings are used to advise consumers and tell them how efficient something is before committing to it.

But, what does an energy rating tell us? We have been looking at the ratings to help you get to grips with the labels so you know what to look for out for when shopping. We also look at the home and tell you the importance of living in a property with a higher energy rating.

All properties that are built, sold or rented require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This must be made available to potential buyers or tenants, showing how energy efficient the property is.  An EPC contains a full breakdown of how a property uses energy – which can be used to determine how expensive it will be to live in. The Certificate will also give recommendations about how to save money and reduce energy waste.

Rated from ‘A’ – ‘G’, an EPC lasts for 10 years, ‘A’ (dark green) is the most efficient, ‘G’ (red) is the lowest efficiency. Most UK homes sit somewhere in the middle with an average rating of ‘D’.  All homes should try and get as close to ‘A’ as possible to save money and make their space greener.

Next to each letter there is also a numerical ration from 1-100, the bigger the number, the more efficient the home and the lower the bills.  Environmental impact is also shown on the scale, colour-coded blue to grey. Lower emissions sit at the blue end of the scale and taper down to the ‘not environmentally friendly’ grey side of the scale.

EPCs can also give other information such as carbon monoxide emissions, fuel costs and who to contact for complaints. These certificates also rate a building’s performance in terms of energy use per square metre of floor area, efficiency based on fuel costs and environmental impact based on carbon dioxide emissions.

The EPC assessor uses standardised assumptions about the occupancy of a home’s heating patterns and location. This information is used to construct a table indicating how much it will cost to provide hot water, lighting and heating. Like the energy ratings, these assumptions indicate the potential money that a home can save, were it to be made more energy efficient.

Homes rated A, with a low environmental impact and no needed recommendations are cheaper than lower rated properties. In order to boost a home’s rating, follow the recommendations suggested by the EPC assessor.

For those strapped for cash, in 2011 the government introduced The Green Deal. This is a scheme which allows homeowners to apply for funding to carry out home improvements for energy efficient purposes. Examples of work to be carried out include new heating and boiler systems, new windows, cavity wall insulation and roof insulation. The eligible improvements are then paid for through monthly energy bills.