Why you need to start looking at domestic energy labels

Energy efficiency has become a big talking point around the United Kingdom over the last few years. The 2050 target has put energy efficiency not only on government’s agenda, but also made it a priority for homeowners through incentives and grants.

The target commits the UK to a reduction in carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050. While the Zero Carbon Home initiative, originally proposed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2006, was eventually scrapped in 2015, the housing sector in the UK is still responsible for a staggering 30% of the national greenhouse gas emissions. This puts great responsibility on homeowners to take action.

If the 2050 target is going to succeed, domestics emission have to be reduced by 3% each year. The reality however, is that the population in the UK is growing at a rate that will see the number of households increase by 23% by 2050, which, unless the way we consume energy, will also mean a 23% increase in energy consumption.

Creating an energy efficient home is therefore not only essential for the success of the 2050 target and the health of our environment, but energy efficiency also holds great benefits for the home owner in the reduction of domestic energy bills. Like most commodities, energy coming from fossil fuels work on a supply and demand basis: the higher the demand on a dwindling supply, the higher the price. Conserving energy and getting energy from sustainable resources then should be a top priority.

Energy ratings

There are a few different ways in which you can make sure that your home runs as efficiently as possible, and as a consumer it has become easier than ever to know the facts about what you put into your home.

Window Energy Ratings can tell you the efficiency of your windows, appliances ratings those of most domestic appliances and light bulbs, and a domestic Energy Performance Certificate will determine the overall efficiency of your home.

Energy Performance Certificates

To motivate and enforce an energy efficient home leading up to the 2050 target, Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) were introduced in England and Wales on 1 August 2007. While it was initially only intended for properties with 4 or more bedrooms, it was gradually extended to include smaller properties as well. Rental properties are also required to have an EPC, which is valid for 10 years, for properties with tenancy agreements commencing after 1 October 2008.

How to get an Energy Performance Certificate

It is the legal responsibility of every home owner to apply for an EPC. When a property changes hands, this document forms part of the purchasing agreement and has a very real influence on the price of the property. Home owners and estate agents are also obliged to supply tenants with and EPC as part of their lease agreement so that they may fully understand the running costs involved in their new home.

There are numerous independent agencies throughout the UK that can do an energy assessment for you, but it is important to get an accredited assessor, which you can find through the Department for Communities and Local Government.

An inspection by the assessor will take around 2 hours, depending on the size of your property. The assessor will use software to calculate the energy rating, after which you will receive a certificate with information on the energy efficiency and environmental impact of your property.


Your certificate will contain the following:

Energy efficiency rating of your property

This is a measure of the overall energy efficiency of the home, taking into account all of the factors lister below. A high rating means higher energy efficiency and lower energy bills, where a lower rating means lower energy efficiency resulting in higher annual energy costs.

Environmental impact and CO2 rating

This is a measurement of the home’s impact on the environment with regards to its CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. The higher the rating, the less the impact on the environment.

Estimated energy use, CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions and fuel costs

This is an indication of current and potential energy use and annual CO2 emissions. It also indicates the estimated current expenditure on lighting, heating, boilers and what those costs could be should improvements be made.

Summary containing the energy performance related features

This summary will itemize the individual elements that impact your energy rating, and is classed as Very Poor / Poor / Average / Good / Very Good. Elements that are considered are walls, roof, floor, windows, main heating source and controls, secondary heating, hot water and lighting.

Recommendations on improving your home’s energy performance

These recommendations will include improvements like insulation of roofs, installing triple glazing to improve the U-value of windows, insulating floors and walls, installation of energy efficient appliances and upgrading of an outdated heating system.

Window Energy Ratings (WER)


Domestic windows in the UK have been rated by the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) since 2004. Since then, the BSI and Certass have also set up a rating scheme and window companies can choose to register with any of these regulatory bodies to obtain the necessary certificates. The rating is based on the energy efficiency levels achieved by the manufacturer, with A++ being the most energy efficient and E being the least efficient.

The rating process is completely independent from the glazing manufacturers and installers, and gives the consumer the opportunity to compare different manufacturers’ products on an even playing field.

When getting quotations from various suppliers, not only the cost of the product should be considered, but also the energy rating of the units.

The energy rating of a window is based on a formula that considers the total heat transmittance, the g-value of the unit (the amount of heat from the sun that can pass through the glass to gain entry into the home), the U-value of the whole glazing unit with both glass and frame taken into account (measuring the rate of heat loss through the window), the resistance to heat transference of the window and the amount of air allowed through the window seals.

With around 22% of our homes’ interior heat being lost through the windows, homeowners should make it a priority to upgrade their windows to the system with the highest energy rating. Standard double glazing has an energy rating of A to A+ and triple glazing has an energy rating of A++, making them the most energy efficient window system available.

When looking at your home’s Energy Performance Certificate, window insulation plays a vital role. Upgrading to triple glazing will not only cause a drop in energy bills, but could also increase your home’s energy rating from band G to E, or from band D to B which could mean an increase of up to £16,000 on its sale price. Some areas of the UK see even greater increases, with property value increases of up to £25,000. source

Domestic Appliance Energy Ratings

These colourful labels have been helping consumers make informed decisions when buying domestic appliances since 1995. In 2003, the great success of the labelling scheme and acceptance by the public, led the European Union to introduce classes A+ and A++ to correspond with both a market-led demand for more energy efficient appliances and to encourage suppliers to develop them.

The Energy Label as we see it today was introduced in 2010. It consists of:

  • A+++ to G classification scale
  • Seven energy classes
  • Colour coding ranging from dark green (most efficient) to red (least efficient)

The label is uniform for all EU member states, is language neutral with pictograms, contains relevant product information and includes a noise declaration where applicable.

The purpose of these labels is to give the consumer comparable energy information when purchasing domestic appliances. When comparing different products then, not only the price of the product will play a role in the purchasing decision, but also the cost of running it.

When buying a new home, when upgrading your existing home or when getting new appliances, always make sure that you carefully read the energy ratings to ensure that you make the responsible choice.

Published on : 29th January 2017

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