EPC company warns solar installers over inferior surveys

The National EPC Company (NEPCCo) has warned solar PV installation firms about the risks of obtaining inferior EPCs. The UK’s largest independent provider of EPCs has seen a flood of solar installers seeking EPCs after new guidelines introduced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on April 1, required all residential and commercial buildings to hold an EPC category ‘D’ in order to claim the highest FiT rate available.

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.”

To combat this problem NEPCCo recommends that installers obtain two FiT EPCs. The first one should identify a property’s current EPC rating and the second EPC should provide an estimated banding for the same property with a proposed PV array installed. Problems may arise if recording systems are not managed correctly or if incorrect calculations are made, resulting in serious delays for installers. 

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

NEPCCo notes that EPC companies are required to manage and store proof of upgraded work and allow information to be freely available should accreditation bodies wish to inspect the validity of an EPC. The EPC specialist warns that companies unable to produce such evidence risk invalidating an EPC.  

Chief Operating Officer Justin Molloy from Solar Direct Savings spoke of the vital importance of accurate EPCs, saying: “The quality of EPC surveys can vary tremendously. 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.”

DECC estimates that almost 50 percent of domestic properties in the UK currently fall below the EPC category ‘D’ standard. NEPCCo believes that, with Government funding initiatives such as the Green Deal, Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and existing FiTs, installers have a perfect opportunity to diversify and cross-sell their services.