Energy Performance Certificates – What Does an Assessor do in Your House?

EPC Bromley

You know what an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is, but what exactly does an assessor do when they visit your house?  If you call EPC Bromley to arrange an domestic energy assessment then what can you expect when they visit?

Have a look below for a summary of the items that EPC Bromley will consider during the assessment for your EPC.

House Age and Build Type

Working out the year that the house and any extensions were built will tell us what the building regulations were at that time and therefore how energy efficient the house is in general.  A house built in 1930 would have had no insulation fitted to the walls as a regulation, this is not the case with a house built in 2010.

The build type (detached, terrace, flat) tells us where the heat may be escaping from.  A detached house generally has at least four cold walls whereas a semi will have one shared wall which is warm.  A flat could be heated from all sides and have a communal corridor area which is heated too.

Dimensions

Quite simply we measure the volume of your property.  We need to know the amount of space you have to heat before we make a judgement on how you heat it.  We’ll also consider whether you have a conservatory. 

If your conservatory has an outside door sealing it off then it is discounted, if it is open plan then it is included and considered a source where heat can escape more easily.

Walls

Wall types are generally solid, cavity or timber framed and are as efficient as the regulations in place when they were built.  Traditionally, solid walls without insulation were used on houses until well into the 1930s, this kind of wall is very inefficient. 

If it is a cavity wall then we check whether the cavity has been filled with insulation retrospectively, as originally cavity walls were not filled.

Roofs

We poke our head into the loft and see whether it is insulated, if it has then how deep is it?  Traditional insulation at the joists should be at least 270 mm deep.  Remember, if you crush it down with floorboards to 100 mm then it is only 100 mm effective.

Floors

Are they solid or suspended floorboards, has it been insulated or do you have another dwelling below you?

Openings

We consider how many doors you have and whether those doors are insulated.  We look at how much glazing you have and whether it is single, double or triple glazed.  If it’s double glazed we consider what year it was installed, double glazing installed from 2002 onwards is much more efficient than glazing fitted before then.

If it was fitted before 2002 then we consider the frame type (metal, pic or wood) and the gap between the panes of glass.

We also look at how much draught proofing is in place.

Ventilation & Lighting

We look at how many fireplaces the property has and whether these are open, we also look for any mechanical ventilation or cooling systems that are in place.

We count the amount of light fittings and at the same time we count how many of these have low energy bulbs in place.

Heating Systems

How do you heat your home?  If you use a traditional boiler then we consider how efficient that boiler is.  Modern condensing boilers get the highest efficiency scores.

We consider how the heat is distributed (radiators, underfloor) and how that heat is controlled.  Properties that have a room thermostat, thermostatic radiator valves and a heating timer will score  highest.

If your property has more than one heating system then this is also considered as well as any secondary heaters such as a gas or electric fires in the reception rooms.

Water

How do you heat your water?  Do you have a combination boiler or a hot water cylinder?  If it’s a cylinder then how large is it?  Is it insulated?  Does it have a thermostat?  We then consider how many bath/shower rooms are in the property, how many of these have baths, showers or both?

We also look at other options for water heating which may be in place.  These include solar water heating, waster water heat recovery systems (WWHRS) and flue gas heat recovery systems (FGHRS).

New Technologies

We investigate if you have any other new technologies in place like solar photovoltaic panels or a wind turbine.  The terrain you live in is considered(urban, suburban, rural) which determines whether a wind turbine would be suitable.

Checks are made at this point to see what type of electricity meter the property is has (dual or single charge).   If the house isn’t heated by a gas boiler, we see whether there is a gas meter indicating it would be an option.

Any other info

Here’s where you can note whether the property has a swimming pool or  uses a more obscure way to heat itself.  For example micro CHP or a biofuel that isn’t listed in the usual database.

If you don’t understand some of these points, feel free to get in touch with EPC Bromley and ask.  Otherwise your EPC Bromley assessor will be happy to answer any questions you may have whilst the survey is taking place.

What is an EPC and What Does it Show? – EPC Bromley explains

EPC

If a home is on the market for renting or selling then it needs to have a valid EPC, it’s as simple as that.  But rather than being a pointless piece of bureaucracy, EPC Bromley considers that it can actually be used as the instruction manual telling you how to make your property more energy efficient.

However, EPC Bromley has discovered that although people have the certificate they have trouble deciphering the information within it.  So we’ve put together this guide.

What are EPCs for?

On a very basic level an EPC lets you compare the energy efficiency between one property and another.  This is obviously useful information if you are looking to buy or rent a property.

Secondly it tells you which energy efficiency improvements can be done, how much they will cost to install and how much money they will save you once installed.

EPC Explained

Page One – Current Costs and Potential Costs

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This shows you the estimates of how much your house costs to light up, to heat and produce hot water.  It then shows you what these costs could be if you had the recommended energy efficiency measures installed and how much you could therefore save.

In this case you can see that this house could potentially save over £1,000 a year.

Energy Efficiency Rating

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This is the main data that people are concerned with.  It looks a bit like the ratings that are given to electrical appliances because it is.

The ratings are scored out of a total of 100 and these then correspond to the letters A-G, with A being the highest. 

The two ratings show the level that the property is currently at, compared to the level it could achieve if all measures were installed.  In this case the property is ‘F’ rated but could potentially achieve a ‘C’.

Top Actions

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The top actions are also featured at the bottom of page one.  These are the measures that could see the property reach its potential the most quickly.  A full list is shown further on in the document

Page Two  – Energy Performance Summary

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This breaks down each and every element of the property into a description and a rating.  This is to give you more information as to the construction of the property, the way it heats up, the way that heating is controlled and how the property is lit.

This property has energy inefficient solid walls and no insulation in the loft.  However the boiler is considered pretty efficient.

Low and Zero Carbon Energy Sources

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This list shows if the property gets any energy from low carbon sources.  this includes renewables such as Solar PV or Solar water heating panels.  In this case the property has none.

Heat Demand of the Property

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This shows the expected heat demand of the property and how this will change if insulation is installed.  This section is used for people considering installing renewable heating into their home, it enables calculations for Renewable Heat Incentive payments.

Page Three – Recommended Improvements

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This is in fact the most important part on the EPC.  It shows you in detail all of the recommendations, their costs, their savings and how much the property’s energy rating will go up once they are installed.

They are also shown in order of how important they are.  It is a good guide as to how you should decide which energy efficiency measures to install first.  In this case installing wall insulation will increase the rating from a 31 to a 50, an increase of 19 points which would take the property from an ‘F’ to an ‘E’.

The latter recommendations are aimed at people who want the property to achieve the highest possible rating.

Alternative Measures

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This is a list of other measures that could further improve the efficiency of the property.  This could list things such as air and ground source heat pumps.  In this case it recommends Micro CHP.

Page Four – Other Information

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This part has disclaimers about the EPC, who completed it, when and how they are qualified to do so.

Environmental impact

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The last section shows the amount of carbon emissions from the property and how this impact could be lowered if all recommended measures were installed.

EPC Bromley hopes this guide has been useful.  Remember, your EPC is public domain and can always be viewed at epcregister.com

Saving Money on your Water Heating

EPC Bromley

You’re probably aware of how much you pay for water each year as well as being aware how much your electricity and gas bills are.  But are you aware of exactly how much you spend on heating water in your home?  EPC Bromley looked into this and the ways you could save money.

In Bromley, the average household gets through approximately 330 litres of water every single day.  If your home and hot water is heated by gas then you can safely assume that around 15% of your heating bill is for heating your hot water.  EPC Bromley would estimate that this amounts to around £80 per year.

If we save water we can save money.  This is obvious if you are on a water meter, but it can also have an impact on your energy bill.  It also helps your local environment and your carbon footprint.  The heating of water domestically, contributes to around four per cent of the total CO2 emissions in the UK.

Boilers

The set up in most houses means that the hot water you use is provided by a boiler.  This hot water is either supplied directly in the case of a combi boiler, or by way of a hot water cylinder with a standard boiler.  If it’s the latter system there will also likely be an electric immersion heater included.

One of the most important tips EPC Bromley can give you is to advise you to always use the boiler to heat the hot water, even in summer.  Using the immersion heater will always cost more money (unless using solar) and should only be used as a last resort.

Immersion Heated Water

If you don’t have a mains boiler heating your home then you may not have the facility to use gas or oil.  In this case you’ll most likely have to heat your hot water by way of an immersion heater.

Most of these kind of storage cylinders contain two elements.  One is located at the bottom and will heat all of the hot water at nighttime using off peak electricity at lower prices.  The top element will be used in the day when top ups are required.

In these cases the one thing EPC Bromley can recommend is to ensure that you do not have the immersion switched on all day and all night.  You’ll waste a huge amount of money heating water when you don’t need it.

Top Tips to Reduce Water Heating Bills

  1. Simply try to use less hot water!  Shower instead of bath, fill up washing up sink instead of running tap.
  2. Ensure that your hot water cylinder is adequately insulated.  If you have no insulation then putting a hot water jacket around it is cheap and saves as much as £20 a year.  Consider insulating hot water pipes too.
  3. Make sure you have the correct controls.  Use a timer, never have your hot water set for 24 hours as you will be heating hot water at totally unnecessary times.  Make sure you have a thermostat on your cylinder and ensure it is set to 60°C.  Any higher and it is a waste as it is too hot to use.  Any lower and you run the risk of legionella.
  4. Can you switch fuels?  If gas is available use it, it is far cheaper than gas or oil.
  5. Solar water heating (also known as solar thermal) can give you almost all the hot water you need. This is at virtually zero running cost.