When most people think of energy efficiency in their domestic or commercial property they regard it as something that is optional, as opposed to something that is essential. However, more and more stringent building laws imposed from Europe are now making energy efficient building design standard practice, as well as laws governing the criteria for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
It is no longer an optional extra in the construction industry to make a new build energy efficient and it is steadily becoming a similar situation for domestic and commercial property owners alike.
For example, if you want to sell your home in the coming years it will arguably become increasingly more difficult if it has a low EPC certificate rating, as this will mean the next occupiers will need to make improvements to the property, in order to keep on top of rapidly soaring energy prices. Alternatively, the house may have to be sold for a much lower price than expected to counter the additional cost the new occupants will have to incur, when making energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, boiler upgrades and double glazing.
The same applies for a commercial property, the rentable value of the property being potentially lowered by the fact it is inefficient i.e. not cost effective to heat and light. This all translates to higher energy bills and thus, a loss in overall revenue. Alternatively, a landlord taking on a low EPC grade property, whether commercial or domestic, will have to spend additional money making energy efficient upgrades in order to make the property more cost-effective and attractive to tenants and in turn, charge higher rents in order to recoup the initial expenditure. This could lead to the building be vacant for some time, the rents having to be lowered and the property operating at a loss until the money is finally recouped.
In April 2018, the law dictates that any property, whether commercial or domestic, with an EPC rating lower than ‘E’ will be illegal to market for sale or rent. This in itself is enough to put any potential property buyer off taking on a low EPC grade property, in the knowledge that it will have to have money spent on it to make improvements in order for it not to be blacklisted in five years time.
The onset of climate change is the root cause of this energy efficiency drive and the need to lower greenhouse gas emissions from all areas of concern, such as waste, transport, industry and buildings has now become paramount. Living in a sustainable manner however, is nothing new in some parts of Europe. Denmark, Sweden and Finland have been doing it for the last thirty to forty years and have enjoyed great success and increased energy security from it, while concurrently keeping their emissions at a manageable level.
In the UK however, energy efficiency has only really come to the fore in the last ten years and is, even now still not recognised as a serious concern by the vast majority of the public. Thankfully,Europe has intervened and whether people like it or not, rules are rules and they have to be adhered to or the penalties faced. Compliance to building regulations is now essential and as time rolls on, it will become more and more difficult to sell a property that is below par and emissions heavy.
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Being energy efficient should not however, be seen as a chore and instead be seen as a way for the individual to empower themselves and help keep up with the increased cost of energy bills. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), for example (sometimes known as an EPC certificate or Energy certificate), is an invaluable piece of information for any property owner and after a detailed survey by a registered energy assessor, will show exactly what improvements can be made to lower bills and carbon emissions, in turn making the property more cost effective to run, comfortable to live in and easier to sell when the time comes.
However, many homeowners cannot be blamed for feeling put upon and pressured in this current economic downturn. Money is scarce and for many, when the essentials have been paid for, there is not much left in the pot to spend on improving their property’s energy efficiency levels. So what can be done in this case to encourage people to jump on the energy efficient bandwagon?
Initiatives such as the Green Deal are there to help for those that cannot afford the upfront cost of energy efficiency improvements by providing assistance in the form of a loan that is paid back via the occupant’s energy bills, the savings being recouped by the energy companies to pay for the loan.
Another initiative is the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), targeted at deprived areas and those on low income to help pay for measures such as insulation and boiler upgrades, all as part of a commitment made by the major energy companies at the behest of the government, to help combat fuel poverty and provide the poorest of our country, the means by which stay afloat in this increasingly more stringent economic climate.
For those that have to pay to upgrade, then the long term benefits should be taken into account, such as improved saleability further down the line, the time it will take to recoup money spent and see savings and the fact that the overall carbon footprint of the property will be lowered, making it more environmentally sustainable in the long run.
So, energy efficiency in property is fast becoming a requirement in the UK and the rest of Europe, as opposed to an optional extra for those that have the spare cash to hand and the will to spend it. The law is fully behind it and the government are helping to incentivise the nation by injecting a large amount of cash into energy efficiency to help get the ball rolling and pick up the momentum.
Hopefully, with continued support from government and industry, more education to raise awareness in the general public regarding energy efficiency, sustainability and why it is becoming an essential part of everyday life, more and more people will become involved and help keep our nation ‘Green’, something which it always used to be referred to as.
Article by Paul Patane