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EPCs for Solar Panels

What are Energy Performance Certificates?

Energy Performance Certificates (otherwise known as EPCs) are a rating that your home can receive for its energy efficiency. You will be given a current score and a potential score. These will range from 1 – 100, split across the following bands as in this example:

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Overall, you will receive a grade between A and G, with A being the most efficient. The average grade received is roughly a grade D – an estimated 50% of properties are below it, with 50% being a D or above.

Why do I need an EPC for solar panels?

For new installations from April 1st, 2012, you will need to reach at least a grade D in order to receive the 21p / kWh rate for your solar panels. If your property does not get an EPC or is not at grade D, then you will receive just 9p / kWh, the same rate as the largest solar farms. Since the cost of getting an EPC done is very low (see the next paragraph), it seems that the introduction of this criterion will just mean that solar panels cost about £150 more than they used tom, because getting to grade D is relatively simple.

What sort of measures would a house need to get up to grade D on their EPC?

The vast majority of homes will reach grade D and therefore be able to get solar panels if they have cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and energy efficiency light-bulbs. There are plenty of companies out there, including us, who can sort this all out. Our service is that for about a £150 fee we'll send an EPC assessor to your property to give you an initial grade. If you need to implement any energy efficiency improvements such as cavity wall or loft insulation, or energy saving light-bulbs, these will be included in the price. If your house will not get to the required grade D without significant further expense (ie a new boiler), then you'll be refunded in full and the solar installation will not go ahead. It will then be up to you to install these measures yourself to get the higher Feed In Tariff rate, should you still want to get solar panels.

Why is this necessary?

The government argue that there is no point paying a home to be generating renewable energy in order to cut carbon emissions when that home then has poor insulation and wastes a lot of energy, a bit like how there's no point buying icing until you have a cake.

However, in reality this is illogical. If a house is energy inefficient and doesn't have solar panels, it will be buying more energy from the national grid and wasting it, harming the environment. At least if a house has solar panels installed, the energy it's wasting if it's inefficient is coming from a renewable source.

Critics say that the real reason for this EPC for solar panels being introduced is to discourage homeowners from installing solar panels to keep down the costs of the Feed In Tariff scheme, which has already caused significant issues for the Department of Energy and Climate Change because they underestimated its popularity and it looks likely to run over the budget allocated.