Climate change is now an urgent focus in the world. We recycle, we walk more, we even reduce the consumption of red meat, all in the name of combating climate change. However, have you ever questioned the impact of your own home on the environment? For instance, depending on your home’s heating system, if you have insulation, double glazing, solar panels, or a new boiler, the impact on the energy efficiency of your home could be huge.
The benefits of improving the energy efficiency of your home are evident. Not only does it reduce the costs of your energy bills, it will also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide your property releases. The average amount of CO2 released a year by a property with an EPC (Energy Performance Certificates) rating of A is 0.4 tonnes a year, compared to a G rated property which releases 12.8 tonnes a year, 32 times worse. According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, this difference between a single A rated and G rated property is equivalent to flying 100 passengers from London to Rome!
The government has recently implemented legislation to incentivise landlords to improve their properties energy efficiency. In April 2018, legislation was implemented in England and Wales that required landlords to meet minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) or risk being fined for any new tenancy agreement they enter. The legislation was extended in April 2020 to include any existing tenancy. For landlords to meet MEES, they need to have an EPC of rating E or above.
The rules do not affect just landlords alone. Property owners are also affected as owning a property that fails to meet MEES reduces the property’s value and saleability. Not only are landlords wary of buying these properties, other buyers will likely deem the costs of rectifying the property to increase its EPC rating or the annual costs of residing in an energy inefficient property too expensive.
Currently, the proportion of residential properties that have either an F or G EPC rating, therefore not meeting MEES in England and Wales is 4.4%. However, this number can be reduced to 0.6% if property owners can carry out renovations to their property which would allow them to increase their energy efficiency rating.
The above chart shows the current proportions of energy ratings for residential properties across England and Wales. Alongside this are the potential ratings if all properties were improved to their highest potential. The regions that have the highest proportion of F or G ratings appear to be concentrated in Wales and South West England, with most of the top 10 worst performing counties within these areas.
Owners with an EPC rating of under B should not rest on their laurels either. The government is continuously striving towards reducing the country’s total carbon footprint and will introduce legislation in the next decade to increase the lowest acceptable MEES from E to C or possibly even B. If the government increases the MEES to grade C, it will be far more impactful to property owners as properties with rating of E or D currently make up another massive 55% of total households. The top four areas with the highest proportion of E or D ratings are all located in North England, specifically, Blackpool, Blackburn, Bradford and Halifax.
Ideally, the government would like all residential properties to have an EPC rating of at least a B and is trying to find ways to incentivise landlords and families to improve the energy standards of their homes. Unfortunately, it was announced on 28 March 2021 that the Green Homes Grant, which was meant to award successful applications £10,000 to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, would be scrapped and the funds from the programme would be administered to local authorities. Currently properties with an EPC rating of B or above make up only 12.3% of all properties in England and Wales, but this can increase to almost 50% if all properties were to increase to their maximum potential. The greenest areas, those carrying the highest proportions of A and B ratings, are scattered across England, with East London and East Central London taking the top two spots.
In summary, property owners should aim to improve their EPC ratings of their properties not only to ensure minimum energy efficiency standards are met, but also to generally reduce energy costs, improve their carbon footprint and to minimise their regulatory and financial risks by avoiding fines and increasing the value of their properties.
All data used for this blog is open sourced from https://epc.opendatacommunities.org/. This only includes properties that had an EPC inspection from January 2008.