What do changing EPC and heat pump requirements mean for the PRS?

What do changing EPC and heat pump requirements mean for the PRS?

15:07 PM, 9th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago 46

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Hi, my name’s Melissa Lawford, I’m the property correspondent at The Telegraph. I’m writing an article about what changing EPC and heat pump requirements mean for the buy-to-let sector.

I want to hear landlords’ thoughts on what the extra costs of upgrades will mean for them. Are you concerned about how expensive these works could be and/or do you have opinions on the effectiveness of heat pumps? Could the plans to introduce these new requirements affect your investment decisions or encourage you to sell up?

If you could spare 10 minutes for a quick chat or would like to share your story, please email me at melissa.lawford@telegraph.co.uk or call me at 07936135425.

I need to file this specific story by lunchtime on Wednesday, so ideally anything before then would be brilliant, though if anyone misses the deadline I would still be very interested to speak to them!

Thank you so much for your help,



by Karen

10:37 AM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

The current EPC certificate is too limited, simplistic and too vague as to what can be done to lift the ratings.

by HelenWGill

10:49 AM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

We've just made the decision to re-install gas in a Victorian property that needs a full refurbishment, because with the way EPCs are measured currently (cost of electricity vs gas) we would never get to a C, and I can't take a gamble on spending now and spending again in 4 years time. If we put gas in and insulate now, get a C rating that will last for 10 years, we can then worry about gas replacement in 10 years time. The EPC rating system looks at cost to run rather than carbon savings, so needs to be revised if they really want landlords to go green.

by homemaker

10:55 AM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Melissa, thank you for seeking our views. I have a number of Victorian terraced houses and have taken all the usual steps to improve energy efficiency; loft insulation, double glazing, energy efficient gas boilers, solar panels etc. I have considered solid wall insulation but the benefit compared to the cost was disproportionate and I have read that in some cases it may not be appropriate. I would like to further improve energy efficiency and am keen to reduce my carbon footprint if feasible. The concern I have, though, is that if I replace energy efficient gas boilers with heat pumps where possible, will the heat output be sufficient to maintain warm homes. I would not wish to solve one issue only to leave my tenants facing the HHSRS hazard of 'Excess Cold'? The other issue to consider is the lack of financial incentive to carry out capital improvements. As capital improvements are not allowable expenses with regard to revenue relief this means that some landlords will not be in financial position to carry out these works.

by Beaver

11:05 AM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by PJB at 10/11/2021 - 10:09
I'm not sure about the comments about hydrogen. A mix of hydrogen and CH4 will burn. Hydrogen generated from photovoltaics is already in use in Sweden and they are on a similar latitude to us.
I think disconnecting yourself from the gas network would be a mistake.

Coincidentally I had to install new combi boilers last year as the old ones failed. Since installing newer combi boilers heating costs are on the way down. If we were to chuck away the gas boilers and replace with heat pumps both bills and rents would have to rise. I can't see tenants wanting that. I'm also not convinced it's the right thing.

A lot of housing stock cannot put in CWI because it would be damaging. If you were able to retain the gas boiler for hot water and add other forms of renewable energy to reduce emissions produced by heating I would consider it, but not if CWI was a prerequisite (although I would consider other forms of insulation).

by JB

11:34 AM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Poor, poor Tenants. They'll end up paying for it

by PJB

11:54 AM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Beaver at 10/11/2021 - 11:05Thanks and sorry. CH4 is a hydrocarbon (not carbon free). Yes it will burn but only a maximum of 20% hydrogen gas mix will work. After that the supply gas pressure has to be raised and boilers for domestic and industrial customers need to be modified or replaced.

The issue is not a simple one to solve.

by Beaver

11:59 AM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by PJB at 10/11/2021 - 11:54
Yes I know that CH4 is a hydrocarbon.

I'm just aware that H2 is already in use in Scandinavia being generated from photovoltaics and being stored. I'm not convinced about disconnecting from the gas network either for commercial reasons, social (tenant) reasons, or scientific reasons.

If policy allows it I might be prepared to add renewables but keep gas supply for hot water/hob.

by PJB

12:25 PM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Beaver at 10/11/2021 - 11:59
Indeed. My concern is Britain has a huge gas pipe network. It has been built up over centuries to deliver gas to users up to a certain gas pressure. If we are to use carbon free gas in the future, it must be able to delivered to roughly the same form as existing gas. i.e. same calorific value (energy density) and supply pressure.
The energy density of pure hydrogen at current usage pressures (~20mbar) is pretty poor and would need to be compressed to dangerous levels (100 bar or more) for the transport around the gas network to work.
I can't see the government even considering for a moment the prohibitive cost to upgrade or repurpose the entire national gas grid at this scale.
As I said, much more development is required to find a suitable carbon free replacement to natural and propane gas that can be sent down the national gas grid.

by Bryan Smith

13:28 PM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by PJB at 10/11/2021 - 12:25
PJB, as an engineer in oil & gas I can let you know that the trunk lines around the country are close to 100Bar. 90Barg is probably the norm, but feeder lines from offshore etc can run at 200bar. This is stepped down progressively to city levels and eventually end users. What is being trialled in places like Germany is 20% injection of hydrogen. Replacing 20% of all natural gas in this country would be a big achievement but it comes with more problems. Steel pipework can be subjected to hydrogen cracking, but most of the network is lined now. Unfortunately with plastic pipes so we need oil to produce. Maintaining our affluent lifestyles and being totally environmentally friendly is an ideology impossible without a Star Trek leap in technology. When the environmental ideologists come to their senses we can have a real discussion about where the efforts should be. Landlords in a country where less than 1% of the world pollution comes from will not solve the problem.

by PJB

13:48 PM, 10th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Bryan Smith at 10/11/2021 - 13:28
Thank you. It is good have authoritative input to these discussions. The fact that trunk lines can withstand such high pressures is good to know but the built-in safety factor of 2 to 3 times working pressure has all but been used up. The assumption here is that pure hydrogen would replace natural gas which in turn would mean eventually converting or replacing every gas appliance in the land. I understand that Bosch Worcester are starting to sell 'hydrogen ready' natural gas boilers. That said, I still think it will take much effort and many years to sort this out.

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