The Cost of Going Green

Whether you are actively searching for your next home or simply browsing through Rightmove to see the prices of houses in your area, how many of us have ever paid much attention to the Energy Performance Certificate rating? Me neither, but that could all be about to change….

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) were introduced in 2007 and provide an assessment of the energy efficiency of your home on a scale of A-G , along with a potential rating after improvements are made.

Why does this suddenly matter?

On 6th May, there was a second reading in the House of Commons of the “Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings” Bill. This legislation could make it a requirement for all homes to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least Band C by 2035. For Buy To Let properties, that deadline could actually be as soon as 31st December 2025!

You may be thinking this might not apply to you, or perhaps you imagine that the EPC grading system is a bit like school and getting a “C” shouldn’t be that difficult, however the average home in the UK is currently rated as between a D and an E.

That means many homeowners will find their EPC is a bit like that dreaded school report saying “must try harder” and a C rating is only achievable after expensive home improvements such as new double glazing, solar panels, energy efficient boilers and even Air Source or Ground Source heat pumps.

What happens if you can’t afford the required home improvements or your local council won’t allow them?

The wording of the new bill states that the rules will apply only where “practical, cost-effective and affordable” and there will no doubt be some exceptions such as properties in a conservation area (where the planning rules might be too strict to allow solar panels on the roof), or where the homeowner can prove that the cost of the improvement works is over the stated limit of £20,000 and so not “cost effective”.

For most of us however, this sort of exemption won’t apply and we will have the prospect of paying thousands of pounds for the improvement works ourselves. There is not even any current support from the government following the withdrawal of their £1.5billion “Green Homes Grant” scheme on 31st March 2022.

Will the new rules definitely be passed?

The new bill may be subject to further amendments following the second reading in parliament next month but with the government’s commitment to lowering emissions and fighting climate change, the legislation will almost certainly come into force at some point later this year.

It might be worth starting to check those EPC ratings on Rightmove after all…