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What's the energy efficiency certificate and how do you get it?

If you want to rent or sell a house, you're going to need an energy efficiency certificate. Let us tell you what this official document is used for and how you can get one quickly and easily.

You must be tired of reading ads for flats for sale or rent that include the phrase "energy efficiency certificate pending". It's when you're the one who needs that all-important piece of paper that you start to worry. And with good reason: there are fines for not having it all sorted out.


What is the energy efficiency certificate?

The energy efficiency certificate or energy certificate is nothing more than an official document drafted by a competent technician.

You are required to have one when:

  • You're trying to sell a property.
  • You're trying to rent a property you own to someone else.

This certificate includes objective information on the energy characteristics of the home. It is prepared by calculating the energy consumption that each building or home needs over the course of a year, assuming normal operating conditions and use. Based on this calculation, the property receives an energy qualification with a letter.

The calculation accounts for hot water production, heating, lighting, AC and ventilation. It also considers elements such as the material for the outer walls, woodwork, what kind of windows the building has, and its AC systems.

“A home that is going to be rented or sold must have an energy certificate.”

What should I know about the energy certificate?

For the assessment, the energy certification scale uses seven letters: from A (the highest level of energy efficiency) to G (the least efficient). Besides this general rating, the certificate includes other energy characteristics of the building, such as its insulation and natural gas and electricity appliances.

Always put yourself in the buyer's shoes: this is very valuable information if you want to know how your money is being spent. When buying a property, it's best to have a general idea of how much it'll cost to heat/cool the home you're going to live in, which depends largely on its energy efficiency.

In fact, the energy efficiency certificate was developed to give an advantage to buildings with a high degree of energy efficiency, so that buyers can see that this characteristic sets them apart, thereby promoting a more sustainable world.

Is there a way to avoid getting the energy certificate?

Working to accredit energy efficiency in all buildings -homes or otherwise- and rewarding those that guarantee it is an indicator of a healthy society. We should be glad we live in a time when these issues have taken centre stage and are recognised as important.

If, even after reading the paragraph above, you're still thinking about how you can get out of this requirement, we can tell you about a few exceptions to the rule.

What kinds of properties don't need an energy efficiency certificate?

  • Officially protected buildings and monuments in areas that have been declared of particular architectural or historic value.
  • Religious buildings and houses of worship.
  • Buildings with a total usable surface area smaller than 50 m2.
  • Workshops or cabins intended for agricultural, non-residential uses.
  • Buildings that, given their characteristics, must remain open.
  • Provisional structures that were manufactured within the past two years.
  • Buildings or building parts that are to be used for fewer than four months per year, or for a limited time during the year, such that their energy consumption is lower than 25% of what would be envisioned for their year-round use, provided there is an affidavit from the property owner on file.

If you don't qualify for any of these exceptions, before you sign the sale/rental agreement, the notary will need to see the energy certificate as part of the package of required documentation to formalise the contract.

“Except for in a handful of cases, the notary will typically require the energy certificate when formalising the sale or rental of a home.”

How to acquire an energy certificate

Fortunately, getting an energy certificate is extremely simple and quickly done. There are just two steps:

  1.  Find an authorised certifying technician in your area, and make an appointment for him or her to come to your building. This step used to be more complicated, but now all you have to do is run a quick Google search. During the visit, the technician will make a sketch, take measurements, and check the façade and insulation materials, in addition to inspecting the heating and cooling systems. When they're finished, they will make a diagram and add the data to a computer application that will produce the energy rating. With all this valuable information, the technician will create a file for you to keep. It will include recommendations for how you can improve your energy rating.
  2. Registering the certificate: once you have the document, you should present it before the competent authority in your autonomous community, so they can verify and document that everything is correct. You can do the registration yourself, though most certifying technician offer to do it for you, to make the process easier. Once you're registered and approved, you will be issued the official energy label.


How much does the energy efficiency certificate cost?

Giving a price is impossible, since all technicians have the freedom to set their own rates and, logically enough, they vary depending on the work that the technicians must do. There are a lot of factors to consider (location, kind of property, surface area in square metres, etc.) that have a key influence on the price you end up paying. Additionally, remember that the energy certificate is much more than a simple piece of paper. The technician can put more or less effort into creating it by including more or fewer recommendations, offering more or less detail... And the price can include or exclude add-on (for example, if the technician is the one who goes to the competent authority, which is a tedious process you'll surely want to avoid).

That said, it's possible to get a broad pricing bracket without any commitment. To give you a general idea, energy certificates for homes smaller than 80 square metres typically (though not always) cost between €50 and €250. For larger homes, the cost increases incrementally by around €100-€300 for homes of between 80 and 150 square metres. And so on.

“The energy efficiency certificate expires 10 years after its issuance.”
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