New energy efficiency rules highlight urgent need for EPC review

Posted On: 
7th November 2018

The Government announced this week (5th November) new rules which require landlords to spend up to £3,500 to improve rental properties with the lowest energy performance ratings.

Gas ring
Credit: 
PA

Whilst UKLPG, the trade association for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), encourages further investment into making homes more energy efficient, there have been longstanding concerns that the measurement methodology is flawed.

The current Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) methodology places disproportionate focus on the cost of the input fuel rather than the building fabric. This calculation negatively impacts off-grid home owners due to the fact that the age, style and fabric of the existing off-grid housing stock makes these properties hard to heat and difficult and expensive to heat. These properties do not lend themselves to being retrofitted with newer heating technologies, therefore LPG is a key fuel choice for owners of these types of property. Off-grid properties need to be thoroughly understood by policy makers in order to ensure blanket policies meet the needs of these property owners.

This off-grid disadvantage becomes particularly problematic when the implications of legislation such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for the Private Rented Sector (PRS) are considered. To achieve an equitable standard between which encourages investment in meaningful energy efficiency improvements both on and off the grid, EPCs should be calculated to encourage investment in building fabric and energy efficiency measures irrespective of a property’s input fuel. An unintended consequence of the current EPC policy is that customers are moving away from low carbon fuels to higher carbon sources in order to gain a higher EPC rating on their property.

In UKLPG’s response to the government’s recent Call for Evidence on EPCs, the association recommended the removal of the fuel cost element from the calculation so that the EPC rating accurately reflects the energy efficiency of the property and allows customers to implement truly effective measures.

UKLPG also recommended that carbon emissions are included as part of the EPC methodology  with the most effective way to do this being to take carbon emission figures from SAP10 (Standard Assessment Procedure, the calculation used to work out a dwelling’s emission rate). However, UKLPG believes that the carbon content calculation that currently feeds into SAP10 needs to be reviewed urgently to ensure all fuels are treated consistently.

UKLPG Chief Executive, Peter Westwood, said “Here at UKLPG we actively encourage and support investment into off-grid properties in order to make them more energy efficient, such as by getting rid of outdated oil boilers or inefficient electric storage heaters. However until the EPC methodology is reviewed and the fuel cost element removed, the government will not be able to achieve their off-grid decarbonisation goals.”

Read the full government announcement here & UKLPG’s full response to the EPC Call for Evidence here.