Housing

13 May 2022

5 questions and answers on EPC

Two bedrooms? Check! South-facing garden? Check! Good EPC rating? Erm... check?! Find out what EPC means and why it is so important when buying or selling a home.

1. What is EPC?

EPC stands for energy performance certificate. It is a document stating how energy-efficient your home is. If you are buying or selling a house, an EPC is mandatory. This document helps you estimate how well or poorly a building is insulated, and whether to expect a large or small energy bill. The EPC also has a big impact on the value of your home.

2. What does an EPC show?

  • An energy rating. In the Flemish Region, scores vary from -100 to more than 500, expressed in kWh/m2 per year. This measurement unit refers to the annual energy consumption required for heating, hot water, ventilation and cooling. The lower the score, the better. A score below 0 means that the home produces more energy than it uses.
  • An energy label. The label is a simplified graphic that represents the energy rating. As an example, in the Flemish Region, a C-Label indicates energy consumption of between 200 and 300 kWh/m2 per year. A+ is the best rating in Flanders; F is the poorest. Note: both the Walloon Region and the Brussels Capital Region use different ratings for their energy labels.
  • Details on the energy performance and energy loss areas (for example, along the roof, walls, windows, floors, doors, gates and through the heating system).
  • Recommendations by energy experts and often a cost estimate of the modifications recommended.

Please note that labels and energy ratings are different for Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels-Capital region.

Energy labels per region

Energy labels per region

3. Why is a low rating so important?

  • The lower the energy rating or energy label, the less energy you are consuming for heating/cooling and for the supply of hot water. A better rating means a lower energy bill. Insulation is one of the best ways to achieve a lower rating and to make energy savings. This has not only environmental benefits, but also economic ones.
  • The living comfort of a home is higher with a low score. The right indoor climate means fewer chills in the winter and less sweating in the summer.
  • Your home increases in value. Research conducted by KU Leuven shows that houses with an EPC score of between 100 and 199 have, on average, 10.9% higher sale prices than comparable houses with EPC ratings of between 400 and 499. These houses also sold 25% faster on average. For flats, the impact on price is less pronounced (+3.4%) and the effect on selling time was similarly limited.
  • Because it is ‘a must’. All homes in the Flemish Region and the Brussels Capital Region must achieve an EPC score of no more than 100 (= an A label in Flanders) by 2050. In the Walloon Region the requirement is a score of 85. The requirement to make all homes more energy-efficient is not optional. If, after inspection, a home is found to be non-compliant, it could be declared unfit or uninhabitable. Currently, 3.5 million Belgian homes are not in compliance.

4. What can you do to achieve a lower EPC rating?

  • Step 1: roof insulation. By (better) insulating your roof, you avoid rising heat escaping through it. The roof is the largest source of heat loss: approximately 30% of heat loss occurs via the roof. You will probably only insulate your roof once, so ideally you try to insulate it as much as is possible. If you do not use the space under a sloped roof, then it’s best to insulate the attic floor or ceiling, too.
  • Step 2: wall insulation. After the roof, the walls are the next major source of heat loss. Consider a thorough renovation in order to install insulation in the air gap between the interior walls and exterior walls of the house.
  • Step 3: Windows and doors. The quality of both the glazing and the joinery are key to determining energy performance. You could opt for low-emissivity (or low-E) glass. Completely replacing windows (glass and frames) will often be the best solution, in terms of energy efficiency.
  • Step 4: Floor insulation. Ground floors built on bare soil are generally less prone to heat loss. Having floors insulated is often a drastic measure unless you are already planning to tear out and replace the floors anyway. If you have a crawlspace, you also have the option of insulating under the floor.
  • Step 5: Heating. A condensing boiler uses the heat from gas combustion, as well as the heat that would have disappeared up the chimney with an ordinary boiler. A heat pump is also an option. It extracts energy from the ground, groundwater or outside air and uses it to heat or cool. Other options include thermostat-controlled taps and an adjustable thermostat.
  • Step 6: A solar power system. In addition to solar panels, you can also opt for a solar water heater, which consists of solar panels on the roof and a storage tank for hot water. A solar water heater heats the domestic (sanitary) hot water.

Are you buying a new home in Flanders and you want to renovate it?

Since January 1st 2021, new owners of a house or flat are able to take out an interest-free renovation loan at the same time as taking out a mortgage loan. Indeed, under certain conditions, if you buy a property with a low energy performance and significantly improve it within five years, the rate of the renovation loan will be 0%. Discover more about it on vlaanderen.be.

5. Taking out a loan for energy-efficient renovation?

Energy-efficient renovation is a good thing. That is why you can apply for a green renovation loan for energy-efficiency home improvement projects (subject to approval by your bank). It is a lot cheaper than an ordinary renovation loan.

How can ING help you?

Are you house hunting? Or would you like to get an idea of the total costs of your project? We would be happy to help you make your dream come true.