Does Energy Efficiency of New Homes Outperform Old Homes?

Statistics reveal that the majority of homes in the UK fall short of the required energy standards. In fact, the average energy rating is a D in England according to the 2021 Energy Efficiency of Housing in England & Wales report. Significant work is needed to decarbonise the existing housing market if the government is going to meet its environmental targets and achieve net-zero by 2050 or sooner.

New data shows that new homes significantly outperform older properties when it comes to energy efficiency. In this article, we will discuss why new builds are leading the way for energy efficiency and what we can do to upgrade older properties and close the gap.

How energy-efficient are new build properties?

A recent government report found that an impressive 84% of new build houses were given an EPC rating of an A or a B between October and December 2021. In comparison, only 4% of existing properties received an energy rating of A or B.

These are the higher classifications available, meaning homes awarded an A or B rating have the highest standards in terms of energy efficiency. Only 12% of new builds in the study received a rating of C or below, clearly indicating that most new properties are being built to the highest energy standards.

Why do new houses have better energy ratings?

The government is placing increasing importance on energy efficiency and taking steps to reduce the emissions associated with the housing market. New homes are built to much higher standards and feature the latest energy-saving technology such as smart home heating systems and renewable energy sources. 

Rising energy costs have also played a role in improving the energy efficiency of new builds. Average energy prices have increased rapidly in the last 10 years. The cost of gas and electricity was four times higher in January 2022 compared with the previous year following a rise in the energy price cap – according to the Office for National Statistics.

Energy efficiency has become an important aspect to consider when buying a new home. Properties with better energy ratings are cheaper to run which makes them more attractive to home buyers.

Choosing an eco-friendly home is also popular because homebuyers are becoming more eco-conscious. A survey by Property Rescue found that 82% of home buyers are willing to pay more for a sustainable home with eco features. Purchasing a home with a high energy rating is a simple way for people to reduce their carbon footprint and help the environment.

How can we improve the ratings for older properties?

The average energy rating for existing properties in the UK is a C, but many older homes receive a D or below. The government plans to introduce minimum standards in 2025 requiring all properties to achieve an energy rating of C or above. Homebuyers should be aware of this when searching for potential properties.

The good news is that there are lots of ways to make a property more energy efficient. Here are some of the best ways to boost your energy rating. 

Get an EPC

Getting an ECP (energy performance certificate) is a great place to start if you want to make your home more energy-efficient. You will receive a detailed breakdown of your home’s performance along with recommendations to improve your energy rating. Your EPC will show you what rating could be achieved if improvements are made.

Complete energy-saving recommendations

An EPC gives homeowners recommendations to improve their energy performance rating and lower the associated costs. This may include:

  • Installing double or triple glazing.
  • Upgrading to a more efficient heating system.
  • Replacing old or faulty household appliances.
  • Replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs.
  • Installing additional insulation in the roof, floor and wall cavities.
  • Investing in smart technology like a smart thermostat or lighting system.


The UK’s property market is contributing large amounts of CO2 and urgent action is needed to lower housing emissions. Good progress has been made and the majority of new-build properties receive the highest energy rating of an A or a B.

However, the average energy rating in the UK is a C and many older properties are currently classified as a D or E. Decarbonising the existing housing sector isn’t going to happen overnight and significant improvements are needed. It is important that the government continues to support schemes to encourage energy-saving renovations.

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