Burnt out at the proposed gas price hikes? Blown a fuse over fears your electricity bill is heading for an all time high? You’re not alone. Alongside the extraordinary increase in the cost of living being widely reported, I remain amazed at the demand for new homes, which many people will struggle to afford to heat and light in coming months. Every home I’ve ever built or refurbished has been done with energy efficiency in mind, with some upfront investment needed but also bringing great benefit to whoever lives there once the paint has dried.
I had a feeling this kind of crisis was heading our way some years ago, so when my 80-year-old mother-in-law asked me to completely refurbish her 1970’s bungalow, I suggested an air source heat pump be installed to replace the clanking old oil-fired boiler and the tank in the front garden with, at times, a thousand pounds worth of oil sitting in it.
We bought her bungalow as she needed to downsize and I spotted that the place needed a seriously vigorous energy overhaul; so I negotiated the purchase price down to reflect this. She now lives in a cosy home of underfloor heating and Laura Ashley wallpaper.
The lever I found in the property documents to get the purchase price down was the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). For years, since they were introduced, the EPC was seen as a bit of comedy. Homeowners didn’t know why they needed to get one done, estate agents saw the EPC as a delay to marketing a house and, as a buyer, I’ve been told by several agents that I’m the only one who has ever asked to see an EPC when looking to buy a house.
There’s a reason why I scour the EPC and I explain this in more detail on my podcast ‘Home:Work’ (www.thehomework.co.uk).
Quite simply the EPC details how good or bad the energy efficiency of a home is. When completing the certificate, the assessor looks at every part of a building’s energy consumption and loss, including things like depth of attic insulation and the age and efficiency of the heating system. Each factor is given a rating ranging from very good to poor.
According to research by City AM and a lender called Market Financial Solutions, around 9 million people in the UK will be looking for a new home in 2022 – so 9 million people are going to be affected by an EPC.
With my electricity bill quoted to rise from £2,400 a year to over £7,000 (my house is grade B on its EPC and brand new), I am joining countless others in asking the question “how much does a house cost to run?”
On this week’s Home:Work podcast I follow first time buyers Jamie and Sarah on a viewing of a new build in Hertfordshire. I was bewildered when the sales consultant told them they’d have to have mains gas central heating. Despite all the government noises about moving away from fossil fuels and the incentives that come with more eco installations like air source heat pumps, these novice buyers were expected to buy a brand new place with a heating system that would be out of date within weeks of them dragging around the Dyson and plumping the cushions for the first time.
Insist on it
If you’re one of the 9 million planning to move house this year – whether renting or buying – I wish you every happiness.
I’m asking you to get hold of the EPC, insist on seeing it and really check what’s “average”, “poor” or “very poor” and, if you really want that house, use the poor EPC rating to beat the price down. Literally insist – believe me, you won’t regret it.
Homes developed by Richard Black can be found at www.richardblack.co.uk.
Richard Black is a Property Developer, Journalist and presents Home:Work the UK’s brightest Property Podcast available to download from your platform of choice or at www.thehomework.co.uk