UKLPG illustrates EPC concerns following energy efficiency inquiry
Last week, UKLPG highlighted to the BEIS Select Committee that an unintended consequence of the methodology behind Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) is moving some homeowners away from low carbon fuels and onto higher carbon energy sources.
UKLPG, the trade association for the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) industry, raised longstanding concerns about the EPC calculation methodology used to measure energy efficiency, as it places disproportionate focus on the cost of the input fuel rather than the building fabric. The association illustrated to the BEIS Select Committee as part of their recent inquiry into Energy Efficiency that this policy directly impacts off-grid homeowners and the effective implementation of decarbonisation policy, with an unintended consequence being that homeowners are moving away from low carbon fuels to higher carbon alternatives in order to gain a higher EPC rating on their property.
The EPC rating is positioned as a measure of energy efficiency, in reality however, the rating is actually a measure of energy cost per m2. This method is particularly distorting when comparing various fuel types between similar properties and creates a particular problem for off-gas grid properties where all fuel options (heating oil, electricity, solid fuel or LPG) are more expensive than natural gas. Off-grid properties are instantly disadvantaged as their location dictates their fuel options, which automatically results in lower EPC ratings than their mains gas counterparts. For example, an identical property built to the exact same standards will receive a much lower rating if it happens to be situated outside the coverage area of mains gas.
The disadvantage becomes particularly problematic when you consider the implications of legislation such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for the Private Rented Sector. To achieve an equitable standard 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. Otherwise, it devalues rural properties and leads to off-gas grid homeowners spending more money on building improvements to reach the same energy performance standard as an identical home on the grid, which in turn could cause tenants’ monthly rent rates to increase.
As the Clean Growth Strategy explicitly references using EPCs as the mechanism by which improvements in energy efficiency and performance standards will be driven and measured, UKLPG urges BEIS to remove energy cost from the EPC calculation, to ensure they are an accurate, fair and effective tool for Government to achieve its policy aims.
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