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Look at a property's energy efficiency before you rent

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 20 April 2011 at 1:05 am

While the snow was on the ground at the start of the year, I carried out an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) on a house in a pleasant street in a rural Buckinghamshire village, prior to its owner marketing it for let.

Specifically, this house is in the most northerly village in the county, right on the boundary between Bucks, Northants and Bedfordshire. There's a wide range of homes in this street - from original cottage properties right through to large new homes, only just being completed.  All of them sit in a lovely street, leading up from the centre of the village towards Three Shire Wood at the top.

It made me think, you don't have to live on a housing estate to have a new home, and equally you don't have to settle for an older property if you want a rural location.

Built in the 1970s, the home I inspected is somewhere in the middle. By this, I don’t just mean that it's half way up the street, and that its age is somewhere in the middle, but it’s also true about its energy efficiency.

At an EPC rating of D, it's bang in the middle of the range (from A, the best, to G, the worst). Most of the older properties here will have ratings of F or G, and some of the newer ones could score as high as B.  It's very unlikely that any of them will rate an A, since that would indicate a home that costs nothing to heat and light, which is really pretty rare.

For its age, a score of D is pretty good, and means that it's likely to cost a lot less to heat than most properties in the street.  That's something to be pleased about when it's snowing outside.  It's also good to know that at a rating of D, it's a great deal better than those rental properties that have recently been accused of costing the Health Service £145M a year, dealing with health problems caused by homes with ratings of F and G.  

Friends of the Earth has recently called for a legal minimum level of energy efficiency for private rented properties, and a date, 2016, by which it would be an offence to re-let, or market for rent, properties which do not meet this standard.  Poorly rated homes are linked to several health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular conditions and rheumatoid arthritis.  Not so nice, especially when it's snowing.

About the author: @linniR is a consultant, a freelance writer and a Domestic Energy Assessor accredited with the NHER scheme, and she enjoys all three.  She tweets regularly on issues relating to energy efficiency and renewables and provides consultancy, especially in relation to training needs.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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2 comments - read them below or add one


JeremyOlmComment left on: 30 August 2013 at 8:43 am

We had to move my elderly mother, who has arthritis, last year as she was living in a privately rented apartment in Colchester, and had been for many years. She always came to visit us as we live abroad, so we hadn’t been to her house for 3 years or so. The landlord hadn’t maintained the property over the years and when we visited were shocked at how draughty and cold the place was. He wasn’t happy to spend a lot of money making repairs and so we eventually managed to get her into a council flat for the elderly where she is much happier, and healthier.

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JTec Energy PerformanceComment left on: 18 May 2011 at 11:16 am

an update to this story: the Energy Bill currently going through parliament has been amended to include a prohibition, from 2018, on landlords letting homes with energy ratings of F or G.  This will give owners of such homes about 6 years to improve them, with the benefit of loans provided under Green Deal.  

It seems this story is going to have a happy ending, for tenants at least.

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