Older homes still fail on energy performance

The latest EPC Ratings find that 81% of existing properties in England rated a C or D, compared to 84% of new build properties with A or B rating.
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The latest EPC Ratings for England and Wales in Q4 2021 find that 81% of existing properties in England rated a C or D, compared to 84% of new build properties which were given an A or B rating.

While the figures show much improvement in the EPC ratings of existing properties, there are still challenges ahead for period property homeowners. By 2035, the UK government will enforce new rules concerning properties’ Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings, with all homes required to meet an EPC rating of C.

This is major headache for those currently living in or hoping to buy a period property. Retrofitting older properties to ensure they’re more energy efficient can result in major costs for these homeowners – particularly if renovations are started without careful planning.

Austin Barcley, managing director of Improveasy, offers his advice on the best ways to make your home more energy efficient:

  1. The highest volume of heat loss is through the walls and roof of a property so by insulating first it means that any heat generated is retained within the property for longer.
  2. Many period properties were built using a solid wall construction type meaning the only way to insulate the walls is either internally or externally, as they have no cavity.
  3. Both methods are very effective, but homeowners must consider the impact they may have on the look of their properties, especially houses with period features as they may either be lost or costly to retain.
  4. When it comes to your roof, always ensure your loft is insulated adequately to 270-300mm, and if you have a ‘room in the roof’ instead of (or as well as) a loft, there is a system for insulating this area too.
  5. You should also consider composite external doors; energy efficient double or triple glazed windows even consider underfloor insulation (especially above an unheated cellar or basement) to get the best energy performance from your heating system.

Research from Together – the specialist lender – highlights huge ‘awareness gap’ among pre-1900 homeowners with few knowing how to transform their homes for a greener future:

  • 79% of pre-1900 homeowners know they need to improve their properties to meet the government’s zero carbon commitment – but 57% don’t know where to start.
  • A fifth (21%) are completely unaware of the need to adapt their properties
  • While 20% want to install a heat pump – the average period homeowner would only be willing to spend £5,480 – a massive underbudget for what can cost up to £18,000.

Scott Clay at specialist lender Together, said: “While the government’s EPC band C targets demonstrate the commitment to reaching net-zero; it is an initiative that carries a sting in the tail. First-time buyers hunting for a ‘character property’ need to consider this as they could find themselves having to shelve out unexpected cash to bring their older home up to the eco-standards required – and quickly. 2035 may feel like some way off, but when you consider how long it takes the average person to save for a deposit in today’s market, its important more attention is brought to the new energy requirements early in the buying process.

Those living in period properties and with no plans to sell are best to get a clear understanding of their home’s energy efficiency rating now and start deciding how they can start implementing eco-changes over time.”

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