Counting the cost

Inferior EPC surveys could prove costly warns James Dodd, the National EPC Company

Independent provider of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) and energy surveys, the National EPC Company (NEPCCo), is warning PV installation firms about the risks of obtaining inferior EPCs.

New guidelines introduced from 1 April now require residential and commercial buildings to reach an EPC category D to be able to claim the higher rate Feed-in Tariff (FiT).

NEPCCo’s business development director James Dodd said: “Customers run the risk of spending several thousands of pounds on solar installations only to find out they do not meet the minimum EPC requirements. For example, if, after we have carried out an EPC, an installer decides to change the specification of a job, the revised energy saving calculations may change the entire banding of an EPC. This would be of particular concern for those properties only reaching a marginal D rating with the initial design.”

NEPCCo provides installers with two Feed-in Tariff (FiT) EPCs. The first one identifies a property’s current EPC rating, then a second estimated banding is given for the same property with a proposed PV array installed. In both cases, if a banding fails to reach a D rating, NEPCCo will advise an installer of exactly what measures will be required to upgrade the banding. Problems may arise if recording systems are not managed correctly or if incorrect calculations are made, resulting in serious delays for installers.

Dodd continues: “It’s important for EPC providers to then make recommendations and provide costs to installers for remedial work so that delays can be avoided.”

The time it takes to issue an EPC is crucial for installers. NEPCCo will deliver ‘D’ banded EPCs within 24 hours following an installation. If remedial works are required to upgrade a banding then an EPC will be issued within 24 hours following proof that the necessary work has been completed.

EPC companies are required to manage and store proof of upgraded work and make information freely available should accreditation bodies wish to inspect the validity of an EPC. Companies unable to produce such evidence risk invalidating an EPC.

Chief operating officer, Justin Molloy from Solar Direct Savings, said: “The quality of solar PV surveys can vary tremendously. Since working with The National EPC Company we have noted a substantial improvement in our PV surveys. Our installers rely heavily on accurate and timely surveys being carried out so that each job can be completed efficiently without the need for re-design work. The National EPC Company’s network of regional surveyors also allows us to turnaround installations within our 28-day schedule.”

DECC estimates that almost 50 per cent of domestic properties in the UK currently fall below the EPC category D standard. With government funding initiatives such as the Green Deal, Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and existing FiTs, installers will have the opportunity to diversify and cross-sell their services.