Energy bills are one of life’s biggest outgoings. So, understanding how energy-efficient a new home is before committing to it, is important.
1. Go through the EPC with a fine-toothed comb
Whether you are renting or buying, the law requires you are given an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
An EPC gives a property a rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). A brand-new home is likely to have a high rating, while older homes tend to have lower ratings of around D or E.
An EPC also sets what the estimated costs will be for the property, both in its current condition – and after recommended ‘green’ improvements.
It’s easy to lump an EPC together with the realms of other papers you collect when looking for a new home, but make sure you keep this one aside and read it. Here are 8 points to look out for on an EPC.
2. Find out what improvements have already been made
Once you’ve digested the EPC, you’ll have a much better idea of whether energy-efficient improvements – such as loft and cavity wall insulation, draught proofing and double glazing – are already in place.
Bu make sure you scour the EPC section on ‘How the property is doing now’. This relates to details in the walls and roof, which you won’t see in a cursory viewing of the property. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either.
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3. Check out the heating
Find out how the property is heated – note that electricity is a more expensive fuel source.
Count the number of radiators, noting their size and where they are positioned.
Check out the thermostat and programmer if there is one, as this will help you work out how old – and how energy-efficient – the heating system is.
4. Get the lowdown on the boiler
Find out what type of boiler services the property. Gas combi boilers – which provide both heating and hot water – are most efficient.
All modern boilers come with energy-efficiency rating and nearly all modern gas condensing boilers in the UK get an A-rating.
5. Put your head in the loft
Homes can lose a lot of heat through the roof, so if the property has a loft, make sure you get up there to see what insulation is in place – and whether you are likely to need more going forward.
6. Ask about the walls
Speak to your lettings or estate agent to see what type of walls the property has. If it was built less than 10 years ago, they should already be insulated. If the property has cavity walls, you may want to think about cavity wall insulation further down the line.
7. Inspect the windows
Are they all double-glazed or just some of them? Bear in mind that as well as lowering energy bills, double-glazed windows reduce condensation and noise.
8. Don’t forget the detail
Be an energy-efficiency spy. Floorboards for example – especially if they are old with large gaps between them – will lose heat, while fitted carpets will retain it.
Gaps under the doors could also mean the home is draughty. And, while high ceilings are a bonus for a feeling of spaciousness and aesthetics, it means more energy to heat your home.
9. Be aware of the bathroom
Hot water accounts for around a quarter of a household’s energy bill, so look for ‘green wins’ such as an energy-efficient showerhead, lagging around pipes, and a cylinder jacket.
10. Keep going once you get there
Once you’re settled in your new home, make time to check how you could reduce your energy bills further, such as switching to the cheapest provider and tariff or potentially moving to a smart meter.