ASK THE EXPERT

A. As you know, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) were originally brought in as part of the HIP, which the coalition Government ditched as soon as they came into power. However, the EPC was kept. Why? Well, mainly because they are required by EU law.

So, the current situation is that you or your agent must order an EPC before your home can be put on the market - unless it’s a park home, which are exempt, or unless there is already a valid EPC in existence for that property (they have a 10-year shelf life). The new certificate should be in place within 28 days, and must be made available to all prospective buyers, while the twin bar charts summarising your home’s energy efficiency and environmental impact must be displayed on all marketing materials.

I say “current situation,” because the regulations are expected to change again on 1st October. Originally scheduled for the 1st of this month but postponed at the last minute, these changes would significantly tighten the rules – for example, by requiring a 2-page extract of the full EPC to be attached to all property details.

The official line is that EPCs are A Good Thing, because they give buyers and sellers lots of information about the energy efficiency of individual properties, plus advice on how that efficiency can be improved. But just how useful all that information is in practice is rather more open to question – not least because, according to most estate agents, hardly any buyers bother to look at it! Nor, apparently, is there much evidence so far that buyers are turning down properties they like, in areas where they want to live, and at prices they can afford, simply because they have a “G” energy rating instead of a “D.”

Of course, all this may well change, given time. After all, if you were buying, and you had a choice between 2 more or less identical properties - except that one costs £1000 to heat, and the other £500 – then this certainly ought to affect your purchase.

Nevertheless, all this is rather academic, because the plain fact - as I said at the start – is that EPCs are required by law.