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If you're selling your house or flat you'll need an energy performance certificate (EPC), which confirms how energy-efficient your property is - but what is an EPC? Here, Mark from local Estate Agency Appleby & Townend explains all.

The document includes estimated energy costs, as well as a summary of your home's energy performance-related features. EPCs also include recommendations on measures that would make your home more energy-efficient, along with estimated costs for implementing the changes and the potential savings you could make.

Your property will be given an energy-efficiency grade between A and G, with A being the best - ie most energy-efficient - and G being the worst. New-build homes tend to have high EPC ratings, while older homes often have lower ratings of around D or E.

The average EPC rating for a home in the UK is D.

EPCs are valid for 10 years. They were first introduced in England and Wales in 2007 so, depending on when you moved in, your property may already have a valid certificate. You can check if your property has a certificate here;

Since 2013, listed buildings have been exempt from EPCs, provided they reach certain minimum standards for energy performance. However, if you intend to let it out all rented property (both domestic and non-domestic) which is to have a new tenancy must have an EPC rating of at least “E”.

Here are some useful tips on what makes a difference to your EPC rating and what you can do to boost that rating:

1. Top up your loft insulation – this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve your EPC rating. Going from no insulation to 270mm can improve the rating by 10 or 15 points, whilst even a top up on existing insulation can get 2-5 points worth of improvement in many cases.

2. Cavity wall insulation – If you have cavity walls, make sure they are insulated. Insulating a cavity can improve the rating by 5-10 points on average.

3. Upgrade your heating – The heating system is one of the key factors in the EPC. If you have an old boiler, upgrading to a new condensing model will improve your rating by 5-20 points depending on the age of the current system.

4. Insulate your hot water cylinder – Not everyone has a hot water cylinder, but if you do, it is worth adding insulation to the tank. This is cheap and easy to do, and will bump your rating by a few points as well.

5. Glazing – If you have single glazed windows, upgrading to new double glazing will make several points difference on average – not as much as wall and loft insulation, but still a noticeable increase. If you already have double glazing, even if it is old, there is not going to be much improvement in the rating.

6. Documentation – If you have already had insulation installed, or if you think there may be insulation from a previous occupier, but there is no access to the space, then you should try to get documentation to show this to the EPC assessor. Sometimes this can make as much difference as actually installing an improvement. The same goes for windows installations and other improvements.

7. Seal open chimneys – Open fires and draughty chimneys actually make some difference to the EPC rating. If possible, block these up permanently, or install a closed heater in the opening to add a few further points of improvement.

8. Solid wall insulation – If the property has solid walls, the EPC rating is going to be much lower than an equivalent cavity wall property. You can either insulate internally or externally with a solid wall, and either way it is expensive. The good news is that it can increase the rating of the property by 10-20 points or more, so if maximising your EPC rating is important to you, then this is the way to go.

9. Renewables – Adding solar PV should boost your rating, dependent on the size of the system being installed. With larger 16 panel systems, you could add 10 points to the rating. Solar thermal, although usually a bit cheaper than a PV system, will only add a few points to the rating. Wind turbines can also improve the rating, but this is only going to make a difference for larger turbines in rural areas. Small urban turbines have little impact, both in the EPC and in your electricity supply!

10. Lighting and draught proofing – Adding draught proofing and changing your lights over to energy efficient versions can add about a point each onto the final rating. Not much, but they don’t cost much to do!