CAN YOU DO MAGIC EPCs?

April 13, 2017

A call for action from the Energy Assessor Magazine

Landlords who have F or G rated properties face them being unlettable next year unless they spend some serious money on improving their ratings, but it seems they are finding an alternative solution which is only likely to gain in popularity in coming months.

What’s the solution?  Simple!  Just get an assessor who has magic powers over energy ratings!

You might hope we had seen the last of people with these sorts of powers in our industry, but sadly it seems it’s going on now, and I can say that because I’ve just become aware of an apparent case relating to a property I assessed last year.

Early 1970s detached industrial unit with uninsulated cavity walls, uninsulated asbestos profile roof and mostly oil heating; two large workshops with vehicle doors, some modest storage, a trade counter area, a small office with unfanned electric heaters, toilets with no heating so fanned elec heating assumed.  Two single glazed windows, mostly T8 lighting.

As you would expect, it got a G rating.  That proved to be a problem for the owner-occupier who was planning to sell the building to his pension scheme, I suspect to raise some cash for his business.  And of course the outfit financing the deal wouldn’t touch anything with an F or G rating.

To help him out I modelled for him in SBEM the stuff he hoped would do the trick – new double glazed windows, a bit more insulation! – followed by the only thing that was going to get him an E rating – air source heat pumps.

I subsequently had a call from an aircon outfit who had been asked to quote, so I know he was following up on what I told him.  I don’t know what they quoted, but if they were using anything like decent equipment it could have been approaching £10,000.

I haven’t been asked to do a post-install update, so I assumed he hadn’t gone ahead, but out of curiosity I just took a look on the register, and found he had obtained another EPC.  I was right, he hadn’t gone ahead with the heat pumps – oil was still shown as the main heating fuel.  But the rating had magically gone down about 70 points – to an E!  Wow!  Good trick!

If you’re stuck for something for tea it might be worth checking with the assessor who did that one to see if he can produce rabbits from hats as well!

OK, to be serious, in common with most commercial assessors, I know how this trick is likely to have been achieved, but I wouldn’t be doing NDEAs any favours by spelling it out on a publicly accessible forum.

With the introduction of the Minimum Energy Standards just a year away, in April 2018, it seems increasingly certain that a good many landlords may be facing big bills to ensure their properties comply with the regulations.

So it’s not surprising that building owners may be keen to find cheap ways to beat 2018 problems.  Sadly it seems likely that we will see more magic EPCs being lodged in the next year.

I can report this to the accreditation body, though it’s been taken over since then so I’m not sure how much good that will do.  But I’ll make the effort and see what happens.

Have you come across this sort of thing?  If so let me know by emailing mailto:terrywardle@energyassessormagazine.comPlease include your details but let me know if you would prefer not to have your name used if I publish your information