How to check if a property is energy efficient before you buy

Buying a new home is an exciting venture, but there are so many things to think about that the energy efficiency of your dream property can often be forgotten about. Understanding how efficient a property is can help you gage how much energy bills may cost, how comfortable it will be to live in and even improvements you might be able to make. There are several questions you should ask about a property to determine how energy efficient it is:

What is the rating on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

An EPC will give a property an energy efficiency rating based on its construction, the type of dwelling it is and the fittings it has (for example the boiler, insulation and windows). The certificate will show a rating between A and G, with A being the most efficient. There will also be a rating based on how efficient the property could be if energy efficiency measures were put in place (suggestions for these improvements will also be included in the EPC). You should always ask to see the EPC for a property you are considering and it is mandatory that the owner must have one before selling.

What kind of boiler does the property have?

Finding out what kind of boiler and central heating system the property has will help you to understand if it is suitable for your households needs. If the boiler is older, you should also consider the fact that it may be less energy efficient and could even need replacing in the near future. For further information on this you can visit our handy guides on types of boilers and central heating systems.

It is also worth finding out the energy rating of the boiler (especially when having a new one installed), currently this is measured by the Seasonal Efficiency of Domestic Boilers in the UK (SEDBUCK) but from September 2015 a new rating system called the Energy related Products (ErP) Directive will come into play.

Is there insulation?

An incredible amount of heat can be lost through walls and roofs if they are not properly insulated. In fact an uninsulated loft or roof can cause around 25% of the heat loss from a property, so it’s important to know if there is already insulation in place or if this is something you will need to consider in the future. You should also investigate if there is any wall insulation currently in place – cavity and solid wall insulation are the most common types.

Are the windows double glazed?

Although double glazing doesn’t usually make an enormous difference to savings on your energy bills, it can have a dramatic impact on the comfort in your home and can even tackle other problems like blocking out noise. Double glazing can be expensive to install, so knowing if a property is or isn’t double glazed can allow you to factor in the costs.

Are the appliances energy efficient?

If the property comes with appliances it is worth checking their energy labels to find out how efficient they are. These labels will give the product or appliance a rating from A+++ (most efficient) to D (least efficient). Some appliances may actually cost you more to run than you might think, adding a considerable amount to your bills. Our list of 10 home appliances with high power consumption can help pinpoint which products should be of most concern.

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