The vast majority of home buyers see having an EPC rating of C as non-essential, despite the fact that it could be a requirement in less than 15 years.
The Government has said that all homes should reach EPC C by 2035, ‘where practical, cost-effective and affordable.’
EPC is a rating scheme which bands properties between A and G, with an A rating being the most efficient and G the least efficient.
An EPC rating ranks a home’s energy efficiency, and those with a rating lower than ‘C’ could find themselves needing to pay for improvements in the near future
Upgrading homes to meet the targets could cost up to £65billion, according to Government estimates – the majority of which will fall to homeowners.
To improve EPC ratings, those in less energy efficient homes will need to foot the cost of things like replacing boilers and installing insulation and double glazing.
But according to a new survey by NatWest, having a C rating was not an essential requirement for 85 per cent of those seeking to buy a new property.
Currently, three in five homes have a D rating or worse, according to Rightmove.
Although few deemed having an EPC rating of C or above as essential in the survey, 29 per cent said it was ‘very important’.
There were also signs that those without plans to move home were intending to make their home greener.
NatWest’s research also found that 52 per cent of homeowners had plans for green home improvements over the next decade.
Of these, 21 per cent said they would do the work in less than five years’ time.
Homeowners were not necessarily planning to make big changes in the short term.
The most popular improvement that homeowners said they would carry out in the next year was installing a smart meter to help them monitor and reduce their electricity usage.
While few home buyers saw an EPC C rating as essential, more than a third said they planned to install an electric car charger at their home within the next 10 years
However, looking across the next ten years, homeowners had bigger plans for green home improvements.
An electric car charging point was the most likely energy efficient device to be installed in the next decade, with 36 per cent of homeowners planning to add this to their property.
This was followed closely by smart meters and solar panels (both 29 per cent).
Almost a third of homeowners (29 per cent) said they had no plans to make their homes greener in the next decade.
What energy-saving features do buyers care about?
Ranked: The reasons why homeowners would avoid making their properties greener
While most buyers did not see a property’s EPC rating as essential, there were certain energy-saving features that they were looking for in their new homes.
These included double glazing, which 34 per cent regarded as essential, loft insulation (24 per cent) and cavity wall insulation (20 per cent).
Solar panels, meanwhile, were seen as a ‘nice-to-have’ feature according to NatWest’s survey. Just 7 per cent said they were essential – though a further 37 per cent said they were very or fairly important.
When it comes to upgrading an existing home, ensuring adequate loft, underfloor or cavity wall insulation, upgrading to double or triple glazed windows, draught proofing and hot water tank insulation are just some examples of improvements that can boost an EPC rating.
However, many homeowners still said that making their home more energy efficient would be too expensive or difficult.
Less than half of homeowners were confident they could afford to replace their gas boiler with a more sustainable alternative, for example.
Half of homeowners not aware of potential gas boiler ban
New gas boilers could be banned under recent proposals
The Government is considering plans to ban the installation of new gas boilers in existing homes in the UK by 2035. NatWest’s survey quizzed homeowners about this issue and found that:
- Around half of the homeowners surveyed (47 per cent) said they were aware of the potential plans
- But even among homeowners who were aware, very few had started preparing. The most common action taken was to research alternatives to use instead of a gas boiler, with 9 per cent saying they had done so
- Cost was identified as a big barrier. Only 12 per cent said they were ‘very confident’ of being able to afford to replace their gas boiler with a greener alternative, at an estimated cost of £5,000.
- A further 26 per cent stated they were ‘fairly confident’ they could afford to make the switch
NatWest also ranked the barriers that homeowners cited when they were asked about improving their property’s sustainability.
Cost was the most common, followed by the availability of financing options and the disruption that the work would cause.
Another reason why home buyers and owners may not be thinking about making energy-efficient improvements is fears that some properties, particularly period homes, are simply not capable of reaching the EPC C target.
Research by Rightmove found that it would be ‘impossible’ for 1.7million homes in England and Wales to improve their EPC rating to C.
Currently, 59 per cent of homes have a D rating or worse, according to Rightmove, and 11 per cent will never obtain a C rating even if the recommended energy saving improvements are made.
Challenge: Owners of older properties will find it more difficult to improve green credentials
Lloyd Cochrane, head of mortgages at NatWest said: ‘Residential properties generate around 15 per cent of UK total climate emissions.
‘Our research shows that more needs to be done in raising awareness of what improving energy efficiency means for individual customers as there’s no ‘one size fits all’.
Mortgage lenders are providing some incentives for those who have more energy efficient homes.
For example, NatWest offers a reduced rate and £350 cashback on selected mortgages with deposits of more than 15 per cent, to those buying homes with EPC ratings A or B.
These ‘green’ mortgages have increased five-fold since April, according to data from Moneyfacts.
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