Category Archives: Environmental Performance Certificate (EPC)

Gas Usage to July 2018

This chart shows our gas consumption by month and year since we moved here in August 2015 (the first full month shown is September 2015),  Along the way several changes are marked which might be thought to influence gas consumption, although with natural variation month-to-month and year-by-year the effect of those changes isn’t dramatically obvious.

What is of course obvious is the dramatic difference in gas consumption between summer and winter as gas is our main means of space heating, and there’s no need for space heating in summer.  Most homes would exhibit such a pattern.  Ours is probably a bit more marked than many because of our water heating.  Many homes with gas will use the gas for both space and water heating, but for us the gas water heating is the back-up not the primary water heating system.  Our home is set up to divert surplus solar electricity from the PV panels to water heating during the day.  Only in the evening is gas water heating enabled and then it does no heating if the water is up to temperature.  The gas water heating thermostat is also set a few degrees colder than the immersion heater, so gas is separated from electric water heating by both time and temperature to prioritise electricity.

Previously I had just disabled the boiler in summer, but occasional dull days would leave my wife complaining about lack of hot water.  The new arrangement with the boiler operating later and with a lower temperature set-point has avoided that and is robust as long as your hot water cylinder is big enough for your daily needs so you only need to fill it once with hot water which is then stored available for use until the next day.

Over time 3 changes are called out which should reduce gas consumption further:

  1. In December 2015 we replaced the boiler, hot water cylinder and controls.  The previous boiler had demonstrated that it was incapable of heating the whole home as we went into our first winter so a replacement was rapidly arranged.  The new boiler is considerably more efficient which should reduce gas consumption for a given heat output, but it now heats the whole house, so that might counteract the improved efficiency.
  2. In late 2016 we upgraded the loft insulation from 100 to 270 mm which should be worth £73 in gas per year according to our EPC.  February, March and April 2017 do seem to show some benefit compared to 2016, but then there also variation in the weather year-to-year.
  3. In May 2017 we started adding smart heating controls which has gradually expanded over the following months.  The overall concept here is that most rooms now have smart radiator valves which are both thermostatic and contain their own schedule.  The schedules allow rooms to be heated for fewer hours: for example lounge not heated on weekday mornings, playroom not heated after children’s bedtime etc.

We have moved

Well, after nearly 20 years in the previous house the time came to move. What had started as “One man’s journey” became a couple’s journey and then a family’s journey and eventually the point was reached that enough was enough, or rather non-enough was not-enough when it came to space. A journey that started with my wife proposing a new conservatory (opposed by yours truly) ended up with a significantly larger house about a mile closer to the station. So far for the good news.

EPC scaleThe bad news is that our new-to-us 1970s detached house was rated E52 (on the UK’s scale of A100 to G1 for environmental performance) on the seller’s Environmental Performance Certificate. Fortunately it did have a full set of 2-year-old double glazing but not much else – including it turned out an arthritic boiler that couldn’t heat all the radiators but did manage to heat both expansion tanks in the loft.

So, over the last few months, we’ve been sorting out a few things to improve our environmental credentials and, at the same time, reduce the energy costs estimated at £2,114 per annum (£176 per month) on the EPC.

One of the first things we added was 4kW of solar panels on our south-south-east facing roof. That wouldn’t necessarily have been my first priority as autumn headed for winter, but with a reduction in the feed-in tariffs imminent it seemed sensible to act sooner rather than later. To get the highest feed-in tariff rate it turned out that I also needed a ‘D’ so I switched to low energy bulbs (worth 2 points), fitted the panels (worth 6 points), all of which should have got me 8 points so a D60 and then ordered a new survey..

The new survey came in as a C73 rather more than the D that I’d expected. Key highlights in the different surveys were:
o Walls – from 2 stars to 4 stars as the new survey found evidence of existing cavity wall fill,
o Windows – from 3 to 4 stars after I showed evidence of the installation date,
o Main heating controls – declined from 4 to 3 stars as only 2 TRVs found,
o Lighting – from 1 to 5 stars with all my new low energy bulbs.

Subsequently we sorted out the boiler and controls, so picking up the points values of the latest EPC:
o Hot water cylinder thermostat (as we went from gravity hot water to pumped) – 3 points
o Heating controls (TRVs) – 1 point
o Replace boiler with new condensing boiler – 7 points
o Solar water heating – 1 point

That latest list amounts to 12 points which should have got us from E52 to B85.