March 29, 2012

 Energy Performance Certificates and theFeed-in Tariff (from Energy Saving Trust)

If you have an EPC which shows that your property is a band E, F or G you will need to carry out energy efficiency improvements before you apply for the FITs or receive the FIT at the lower rate of 9p/kWh for the lifetime of the tariff, currently 25 years.

New rules on the payment of the Feed-in Tariff (FITs) for solar PV installations are coming into force on 1st April 2012. From that date you are required to send to your FITs supplier an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) showing that your property has an EPC band D or better at the time of your application to receive the standard rate of FITs of 21p/kWh (for a system under 4kWp) rather than the lower rate of 9p/kWh.

If your property is a band E or less when you first apply for FITs then you will receive the FIT at the lower rate. Note that even if you improve your property’s EPC band to a D or higher at a later date you will still get the lower rate.

This requirement applies only to new solar PV systems and extensions of existing solar PV systems installed from 1st April 2012. This is not a retrospective requirement for existing solar PV systems. At a later date these requirements may also apply to wind turbines and micro-CHP (both currently under consultation).

Why is this now a requirement?

This new requirement has been introduced by the UK Government because they want to ensure that homes meet minimum standards of energy efficiency before they encourage the installation of solar PV. The UK Government states that this is because reducing demand for energy is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions and therefore a process that should be prioritised before installing microgeneration technologies such as solar PV. The UK Government state that “Currently, around 51% of all dwellings are rated at EPC level D or above, and 47% of all dwellings except flats (this compares to 13% of dwellings at EPC level C or above)”.

What is an EPC?

Much like the multi-coloured sticker on new appliances, EPCs tell you how energy efficient a building is and give it a rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). They let the person using the building  know how costly it is likely to be to heat and power, and what carbon dioxide emissions there will be. Once produced EPCs are valid for ten years. The EPC will also state what the energy efficiency rating could be if improvements are made, and highlights cost-effective ways to achieve a better rating.

How do I get an EPC?

Existing EPC

If you bought or rented your property after 1st October 2008 you should have received an EPC from the builder (for a new construction), seller or landlord when you bought or rented your property. If you did not receive one, you can report this to your local trading standards. They can issue a fixed penalty notice of £200, but to meet the requirements of the FIT you will have to proceed on the basis that you have no EPC.

If you have an EPC it will state on the first page under the table headed ‘Energy Efficiency Rating’ the current and potential band rating of your property. For an example of what this might look like. If the current rating of your property is a band D or better and your EPC certificate is less than 10 years old then you need take no further action in order to receive the FIT at the standard rate, other than sending the EPC Certificate to your FIT licensee when you register your installation.

  • If you have an EPC which shows that your property is a band E, F or G you will need to carry out energy efficiency improvements before you apply for the FITs or receive the FIT at the lower rate of 9p/kWh for the lifetime of the tariff, currently 25 years.

Lost EPC

If you have had an EPC but have lost the certificate, you will need to contact the Approved Organisation whose member produced the original EPC:

No existing EPC

The only way to be sure of the EPC banding of your property is to pay for a visit from a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) for an EPC to be produced. The downside of this is that you may need to pay for two EPCs if your property is not already a band D or better: one to find out and one after the improvements have been carried out. Some DEAs may be prepared to create a draft report for you and then wait until the new measures have been completed before amending and submitting it – check this with your chosen DEA. If improvements are necessary your DEA should be able to advise you which of those recommended will be necessary to take your property to a band D and which will take you beyond that.

The cost of an EPC varies, but is usually in the region of £50 to £100 plus VAT. You may want to request an estimate from an EPC provider before commissioning an EPC.

How to reach EPC band D

If you already have an EPC: 

  •  the EPC will set out the potential energy efficiency rating of your property if you undertake the measures recommended on the summary at page 3. These will give you a good indication of the measures that you need to take to improve the energy efficiency of your property although the measures recommended may take you beyond what is required to achieve a band D.
  • you can use your EPC reference number to access the EPC Advisor tool on the Directgov website – it will let you try many different combinations of improvements to find out their impact in terms of costs and energy savings.

If you don’t have an EPC, for some homes (for example, a detached property with solid walls) it may be prohibitively expensive and impracticable to bring your property up to an EPC band D. At the moment, this requirement only appolies to solar PV so you might want to consider other renewable energy technologies.

Will installing solar PV increase the EPC rating?

Yes. There are a number of ways to get a property up to an EPC band D rating including the installation of solar PV though this will depend on areas such as property type. However, for the sake of an application, all the FIT licensees require is that the property has a level D or higher before an application for FITs is made, to receive the standard tariff.