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Can I get an EPC for my solar installation before I finish my renovation?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 August 2012 at 8:47 am

Q: I am carrying out a substantial renovation of our new family home. Prior to starting it  had a EPC (energy performance certificate) grade F. I have installed Solar but was not told of the rules on EPC for the feed-in tariff, nor did the survey etc pick it up prior to installation. It has been suggested that an architects EPC would indicate the property grading D on completion. Would the FIT system accept an architects EPC? I can't find it.

A: Firstly, I'm horrified to hear that your installer didn't tell you about the EPC requirement - to claim the full rate of feed-in tariff for solar PV all properties must have an EPC certificate of grade D or above. It is very bad practice not to advise a customer of that requirement and I'd be tempted to report them to the REAL assurance scheme.

The bad news is that if you apply for the feed-in tariff now, before your renovation is finished, and without the appropriate EPC certificate you will get a generation tariff of just 9p - instead of the 21p that is the current rate for systems of 4kW and below. This will be the rate you get for the whole 25 year period of the feed-in tariff.

But all is not lost. You don't have to apply for the feed-in tariff immediately. You can wait until your renovation is finished, and you have an EPC certificate for the required grade. In the meantime, you will benefit from savings on your electricity bill from using your solar generated electricity, but won't get the generation or export tariffs until you register with a FIT supplier.

This isn't ideal for you as the 21p rate that you were expecting to receive reduces to 16p for installations that are eligible from the 1 August 2012. This will only be paid over 20 years. The only bit that isn't bad news is that the export rate rises to 4.5p.

There is such a thing as a SAP EPC. It assesses the cost per year to provide a home with heating, hot water and lighting, to a given standard, and expresses this per square metre of floor area. However, it cannot be used for FIT purposes. The rules are that "the energy efficiency requirements must be met before eligibility for FITs will be granted".

Photo by Jeremy Levine

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